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VENTURA COUNTY

Judge Asks for More Map Data

At issue is whether Thousand Oaks properly OKd building of three estate homes.

October 16, 2002|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

The lawyer behind many of Ventura County's open space protection laws was asked Tuesday to submit additional documents to a judge considering whether Thousand Oaks properly authorized construction of three estate homes on a site once planned for an equestrian center.

Richard Francis, representing City Council candidate Michael Farris in his lawsuit against the city, was asked by Superior Court Judge Kent Kellegrew to provide him with more information on land-use maps at the heart of the dispute.

Farris' lawsuit maintains city maps in use six years ago clearly show the 8.7-acre site in question was designated as existing parks, golf courses and open spaces. A 1996 open space preservation ordinance requires voters' approval before such land uses can be changed.

The suit argues that once the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources-like ordinance was adopted by the council that year, it obligated the city to adhere to the land uses outlined in its General Plan and corresponding maps, whether those maps were correctly marked or not.

Thousand Oaks' attorneys argue city maps had been erroneously color-coded for years and should have designated the Newbury Park property south of Potrero Road only as proposed parks and recreation.

"The judge is going to have to make a tough decision," Francis said after the hearing Tuesday. "Whether a map with an error that was relied upon by the voters should govern and require a public vote ... or whether the error was enough to invalidate this dispute."

City Atty. Mark Sellers told the judge that when the city's first comprehensive General Plan was adopted in 1970, the site was designated as low-density residential, which would have allowed as many as 32 homes on the property.

The land use was changed in 1988 to proposed parks and recreation as part of the overall plan for Dos Vientos, according to the city.

After several hours of discussing the validity of city maps, Mark C. Allen, a lawyer for the property owner, told the judge that his client's 1990 development agreement with the city came years before SOAR and guaranteed its right to develop the land.

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