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West Ventura Focus

OXNARD : Planners Postpone Greenbelt Decision


After listening to hours of often-conflicting testimony, the Planning Commission delayed action until June 3 on a 4,800-acre coastal greenbelt agreement with the city of Ventura.

Speaking against the greenbelt proposal Thursday night were parcel owners in the 3,075-acre Oxnard portion of the greenbelt and their allies, who contended the plan would create open space at their expense.

Several owners argued that establishing a greenbelt would reduce the value of their land by restricting future uses and by preserving a dying agricultural industry.

"Our family believes it is too late to save the farms; we are already urbanized," said John Dullam, whose family owns 57 acres west of Victoria Avenue.

Others asked for compensation if restrictions were placed on their property that would reduce the future selling price.

"We believe we should have the right to sell the development rights to a land trust, or give away (the rights) and reap the tax benefits," said Charles J. Conway Jr., representing McGrath family members, who own 1,100 acres south of the Santa Clara River.

But the greenbelt proposal was warmly embraced by other speakers.

"No issue unites the public more than greenbelts, because greenbelts between the cities are the primary factor in keeping Ventura County different from Los Angeles County," said Steve Bennet of the Voters' Coalition of Ventura County.

While several landowners argued that Oxnard was giving up more than Ventura, Roma Armbrust of Ventura emphasized the potential for cooperation.

"This is an opportunity for two cities that have wrangled, argued and fought over many issues to forge a friendship in relationship to land that is precious to both cities," Armbrust said.

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