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Traffic Fears Stir Opposition to Development

Moorpark residents say more congestion will result if current plans are followed in the construction of the 1,650-home project.

August 21, 2003|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

Moorpark residents this week got their first chance to sound off on plans for a new 1,650-home development that is chock full of amenities aimed at winning public support: a 52-acre man-made lake, a 2,100-acre nature preserve and a 29-acre youth sports park.

But several residents who attended a public hearing Tuesday said their biggest concern about the proposed North Park Village project was the increased traffic it would create around Moorpark College.

Resident Mary Roberts told the city's Planning Commission that traffic congestion around the college was already unbearable. The project's environmental impact report estimates an additional 8,200 daily vehicle trips after only 500 homes and the sports park are built, increasing to 23,000 when the development is completed.

Roberts suggested the city restrict the number of homes built until Newport Beach-based Village Development completes needed road improvements. Currently, the plan is to build one-third of the homes before a new $25-million offramp along the nearby Ronald Reagan Freeway is built.

"Five hundred homes is way too many homes for Phase I," said Roberts, one of about 50 residents who attended the hearing. "It's up to the city to make sure they can get those cars to the project."

But a representative for the developer said that a number of road improvements were planned prior to construction to help ease congestion in the area.

He also pointed out that much of the project's 3,586-acre site -- now largely used for cattle ranching -- would become parkland or remain undeveloped. In addition to the nature preserve, it would include 423 acres of open space, two public parks and 10 private parks.

"We can't make everybody happy, but I think we made a significant step," Kim John Kilkenny, a vice president of Village Development, said after the commission's hearing.

The project would accommodate 5,700 new residents in 1,500 single-family homes and 150 apartments. A five-acre shopping area is also planned.

"While some people want no development, most people will accept it if they think it is well-planned," Kilkenny said. "They just want a well-conceived plan that benefits the community, and that's what we're trying to do."

During the hearing, the commission was given an overview of the project's environmental report. Significant effects include reduced views of neighboring hills and a loss of open space and farmland. Hundreds of coastal live oak trees may also have to be relocated or removed.

The developer would be required to replace some trees, put in extra landscaping and contribute to the city's forestry fund. As a result, Kilkenny said, there would eventually be more trees on the site than there is now.

The developer also plans to conduct a survey to determine whether the rare spadefoot toad is located on the project site and to take appropriate actions to protect it if that is the case.

After receiving numerous requests to allow more time for public comment on the more than 2,000 pages of the project's environmental documents, the city extended the deadline to Sept. 24. The Planning Commission continued Tuesday's hearing until its Sept. 16 meeting.

If the project is approved by the City Council, it would then be placed on a ballot for voter approval, as required under the city's growth-control laws.

Copies of the project's draft environmental impact report can be viewed at City Hall, the city library or via the city's Web site: www.ci.moorpark.ca.us. A copy of the report on compact disc may be purchased at City Hall for $10.

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