Reduction Sought in Bible College Project : San Dimas: Residents say Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College's plan to sell land to a luxury home developer would destroy wildlife habitat.


San Dimas residents and city officials on Wednesday asked the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission to reduce the size of a project that would rebuild a Christian college and sell much of the campus to a developer for construction of 114 homes.

Residents neighboring Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College said the joint venture between the college and an Orange County developer would severely damage their verdant hillside community that is a home to a variety of wildlife.

The commission, which recommends planning actions to the Board of Supervisors, asked the developer--Century American Corp. of Laguna Hills--and Bible college representatives to return Oct. 17 with responses to the homeowners concerns.

The college plans to retain 27 acres west of the Foothill Freeway for construction of a new campus, sell 53 acres to Century American for construction of luxury homes and dedicate the remaining 70 acres of its campus as parkland.

The development is planned on an island of county territory surrounded by the city of San Dimas.

San Dimas residents said the project--in particular, two entry roads to the new development from San Dimas and Valley Center avenues--would require such massive grading that it would destroy the sensitive habitats of raccoons, coyotes, birds and other animals.

"This is a living canyon," said Susan Crawford, who lives near the college. "Don't let these precious resources be mowed down in the name of development."

Residents cited a report from the county Department of Parks and Recreation that raised concerns about the number of historic oaks that would be removed for the project. They also said that the college has not provided enough information on the types of activities that will be permitted on campus, and how much traffic they will generate.

Barry Cottle, a Century American Corp. executive, said that although 361 oak trees will be removed, two young trees will be planted for every mature tree that is uprooted.

He promised to return to the Regional Planning Commission with more information about campus activities.

At least one group near San Dimas supports the project. More than 40 members of the Mesa Oaks Homeowners Assn., who live on county land west of the proposed development, said they like the development company because it has listened to their concerns and agreed to keep the access road to the project out of their neighborhood of 150 homes.

College officials said they need to sell off much of their land to rebuild the deteriorating campus.

More than 500 students training for the ministry attended the college in the late 1970s, but enrollment has slipped to less than 250. College officials said they must improve the campus to boost enrollment.

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