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VALLEY FOCUS | Woodland Hills

Golf Course Proposed for Pierce Farmland

March 07, 1998|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

A long-brewing debate over the future of Pierce College farmland resurfaced this week, as a developer presented a preliminary proposal to a college panel to convert part of the property into a golf course and golf education complex.

College officials said the concept, unveiled at a meeting of the planning committee for the Pierce College Council, has initially found favor with the administration because of its educational purpose.

"This is certainly worthy of consideration," said college President E. Bing Inocencio, adding that he had not seen the plan by Friday but had been told what it contained. "If we stop thinking, we'll never solve the financial problems we have."

But farmland preservationists said they are ready to fight the latest proposal as vigorously as they have fought others.

"This is a terrible proposal," said Marla Scripter, a student leader of the effort to save the farm. "I don't think it's a sincere effort to address any educational needs in the community."

Inocencio said the proposal is likely to get a serious look because it has an academic component, it would be considered an open-space usage for the site and it would bring revenue to the campus without costing the college anything.

Reached Friday, the potential developers, Harbor City-based Chang Ahn Associates, said the proposal was at too early a stage to comment.

Officials said the proposal Ahn presented Wednesday to the committee calls for a joint venture between the college and his company to build a 125-acre golf education center that would include a driving range, a chipping area, a putting area and two fairways with four greens.

It would also include a program to teach students the game, as well as the skills to manage greens and possibly lend itself to courses in hospitality and recreational club management, Inocencio said.

Unlike Ahn's previous proposal to create a driving range on the property, the new idea does not conflict with city zoning restrictions that the land be kept open space.

The developer is expected to give another presentation to the entire college council, the college's advisory board, March 17.

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