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Orange County Focus

HUNTINGTON BEACH : Bolsa Chica Work Halted Temporarily

September 11, 1993|ROBERT BARKER

The California Coastal Commission on Friday ordered work to stop temporarily at the Bolsa Chica Mesa, where landowners are preparing to demolish two World War II gun emplacements.

Commission staff analyst Meg Vaughn said that terms of a demolition permit required fences to be installed around four small pockets of wetlands before grading could start.

After a visit at the site Friday, Vaughn said some of the fences weren't up and that the earthwork shouldn't have begun.

An official with the Penhall Co. of Anaheim said tractors were merely loosening the ground with discs as a prelude to putting up fences around the gun emplacements, an activity apparently not expressly prohibited in the demolition permit.

But representatives of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, an environmentalist group seeking to preserve the entire 1,700 acres of the Bolsa Chica, said photographs taken surreptitiously on Thursday indicated grading was taking place, an activity prohibited in the permit.

Lawerence F. Brose, vice president of the Don Koll Co., which is managing a planned development at the Bolsa Chica, said all the fences were installed late Friday and that he hopes to receive approval from the commission to resume work Monday morning.

Brose said earth-turning equipment didn't approach the wetlands areas and didn't cause any environmental damage.

Robert Winchell, a president of the Huntington Beach Tomorrow organization, said he intends to ask the commission to evaluate and possibly withdraw the demolition permit to the Bolsa Chica Co. in view of Friday's stop-work order.

The demolition of the bunkers is the first step toward building a 400-acre residential development and preserving 1,100 acres of wetlands south of Warner Avenue and inland of Pacific Coast Highway.

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