MOORPARK — Hoping to bring more than 700 jobs to this small city and prevent a growing company from leaving the state, the City Council has approved plans by Special Devices Inc. to move its headquarters from Newhall to Moorpark.
Council members late Wednesday night unanimously endorsed a development agreement with the company, which makes explosive devices for automobile air bags and missiles.
Starting in mid-October, the company will begin grading an undeveloped hillside east of California 23, eventually building a 331,000-square-foot manufacturing and office facility. Special Devices President Thomas F. Treinen said the plant could open its doors by December 1997.
The council's vote culminated two years of talks between Special Devices executives and a team of Moorpark, Ventura County and state officials. The company had long since outgrown its Newhall facility, Treinen said, and was considering moving to Arizona.
With the help of Southern California Edison, the California Trade and Commerce Agency formed a "red team" of government officials and Edison employees to keep Special Devices in the state. Together, the red team and Moorpark officials devised a $6-million package of tax breaks and reduced or waived fees to bring the company to Moorpark.
"I'm excited about the project," said Councilman Pat Hunter. "It will have benefits not only from a city perspective but a regional and state perspective. It shows businesses not only in California but outside the state that California is very interested in retaining its businesses."
Treinen said he was pleased the company could find a new home without leaving the region. "It's good for the key employees who like California and for the economy of California," he said.
Although few in Moorpark objected to seeing Special Devices move to town, the Moorpark branch of the Environmental Coalition opposed the project's location. The 298-acre parcel of undeveloped land, designated as open space in the city's General Plan, serves as a wildlife corridor and provides access to the Arroyo Simi for animals in the Tierra Rejada greenbelt, said coalition President Roseann Mikos.
Although nearly 270 acres of the property will be left as open space once the facility is finished, Mikos said the disruption caused by construction will seriously damage the habitat. Furthermore, she feared City Council members were establishing a precedent of allowing development in the city's open space.
"They're treating the open space designation as a place holder for development," she said.
Although the facility will be constructed near the arroyo, 22 acres along the stream will be deeded to the city.