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Developer’s Property Will Be Examined for Rare Bird

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Thousand Oaks planners will turn to bird experts to determine if a rare species of cuckoo is nesting in willows on the property of developer Nedjatollah Cohan.

In a bizarre twist to the decade-long debate over Cohan’s 47-acre parcel in Newbury Park, city planners pored through bird books in search of information on the western yellow-billed cuckoo, which reportedly was spotted on the Cohan property in late 1990.

Recent counts show that 32 to 42 breeding pairs of the endangered cuckoo can be found in California, city officials said.

In a cursory examination of the land, city officials determined the bird was “either a fall transient or a misidentification” and was not nesting in the area.

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Cohan’s son, Albert Cohen, said the search for cuckoos on the land was “another attempt to find an excuse which will prevent us from using it.”

But Planning Commissioner Linda Parks said she had great concern for the endangered bird and asked city staff to do a more extensive survey to determine if the cuckoo was nesting on Cohan’s land.

“We have a professional observer saying there was an endangered species seen on property that we’re talking about developing,” Parks said at the Planning Commission meeting Monday night.

“If we’re talking about a couple of hundred dollars to prevent the possibility of hurting an endangered species, I don’t see how anyone could be opposed,” she said.

The rest of the commissioners, reluctant to spend city money on an extensive survey, said they would turn the matter over to the Conejo Valley Audubon Society or other bird experts.

“Since it was just one sighting and we don’t know if it was accurate, it doesn’t really make sense to go through an expensive survey,” said Commission Chairman Irving Wasserman.


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