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OJAI | West Ventura County Focus

Supervisors to Hear Golf Course Appeal

June 11, 1996|CARLOS V. LOZANO

Ventura County supervisors today are expected to hear an appeal by the developer of the Farmont Golf Course in Ojai, which is seeking to remove a provision of its operating permit that requires the use of reclaimed water.

The county Planning Commission in March voted 2 to 2 on the proposal to change conditions of the operating permit, resulting in an automatic denial.

The Farmont Corp. of Pasadena appealed the decision to the Board of Supervisors, saying that the planned 204-acre golf course would use less well water than what the company is legally entitled to use on its entire 2,000-acre tract. Farmont has offered to dedicate 1,500 acres to the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy as part of its development agreement.

As currently designed, the golf course would use about 400 acre-feet of well water each year, said Lindsay Nielson, an attorney representing Farmont.

Opponents argue that this would result in a substantial drain on an already overdrawn Upper Ventura River Basin. They said this could result in more frequent restrictions on area water users during drought periods.

"The benefit to a few golf club members will mean a perpetual burden on local families, farmers and businesses in Meiners Oaks, Oak View and Casitas Springs," Michael Krumpschmidt, vice president of Citizens to Preserve the Ojai, wrote in a letter to the board.

But Nielson pointed out that about 300 acres of Farmont's property could potentially be farmed, allowing the developer to use substantially more water than would be needed for the golf course. Only about 50 acres of the property is currently farmed, using about 150 acre-feet of water each year.

Nielson said that when the supervisors approved the golf course project in 1993, county policy required that Farmont use reclaimed water for its project by the year 2001. But the county changed its policy six months after the project was approved, giving developers more flexibility.

Use of reclaimed water would require Farmont to conduct an operations study estimated to cost $250,000.

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