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Housing Plan : Renaissance Faire Site Action Delayed

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, citing environmental concerns about a proposed development on the former Renaissance Pleasure Faire site in Agoura, on Thursday delayed a decision on the project.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who represents the area, asked that the matter be delayed to allow officials more time to review environmentalists’ concerns about grading, drainage and oak trees. Developer Brian Heller’s proposal calls for the removal of 122 oaks, and opponents say it would scar the hilly area and flood adjacent National Park Service land at Paramount Ranch.

The supervisors plan to take up the matter again on Feb. 2.

State and federal parks agencies have expressed interest in buying the 320-acre site for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, but Heller has said he does not want to sell.

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Heller is asking supervisors to amend the county plan so that he can build 159 homes on the property. The plan allows 103 houses on the parcel, but the county Regional Planning Department has recommended that supervisors approve the larger development.

Heller told the supervisors that houses on the property would be more marketable if more are built. If 103 are built, they would sell for a “very frightening” $2.2 million each, he said.

Board Chairman Ed Edelman questioned the county planners’ recommendation for 159 homes.

“I don’t see why you can’t go with the density as it’s allowed now,” Edelman said.

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Parks officials believe that approval of the larger number of houses would make the property too expensive for them to buy for parkland, should Heller change his mind and decide to sell or should the county condemn the property.

Supervisor Deane Dana said a delay will give the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, a state parks agency, extra time to make an offer to buy the land.

But Supervisor Pete Schabarum was skeptical of the conservancy’s statements that it wants to buy the land.

“Why hasn’t the conservancy or the Park Service or both proceeded a long time ago to undertake the acquisition?” Schabarum said. “That doesn’t suggest to me any real genuine interest or concern.”

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Conservancy Executive Director Joseph T. Edmiston said that his agency is “sincere and serious” about buying the property.

The conservancy expects to appraise the property by March 1 but not before Feb. 2, Edmiston said. The conservancy has funds for an offer if the appraised value is reasonable, he said.


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