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Compromises Play Crucial Role in Future Developments : Moorpark: City grants 552-house subdivision exemption from subsequent growth controls.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

To end a costly lawsuit, the Moorpark City Council has decided to exempt a Santa Monica developer’s 552-house subdivision from any future city growth-control laws.

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The council voted 4 to 1 Wednesday evening to exempt Carlsberg Financial Corp.'s southeast area project from a new ordinance that would make it more difficult for developers to save housing allocations for use in boom times.

Although the Carlsberg project will be exempt from future controls, the company will have to abide by a current slow-growth law--known as Measure F--even after it expires in December, 1995.

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Opponents of the settlement said, however, that forcing Carlsberg to abide by Measure F places virtually no control over how quickly it builds homes, since permits to build 1,300 houses are currently available.

“In essence Carlsberg will be the only developer that has access to those permits,” said Councilman Patrick Hunter, the council member who voted against the settlement. “Is that truly fair?”

Measure F was written in 1986 in response to a dramatic surge of growth in Moorpark, Hunter said. In the rush to draft controls, certain factors were overlooked, he said.

An eight-member committee of council members, planning commissioners and residents has spent the last year drawing up a new law to replace Measure F and, according to Hunter, close loopholes and improve controls.

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If Carlsberg had to abide by the new ordinance, it would not be able to build more than 125 homes in a single year, Hunter said.

The new law would also significantly limit the number of allocations for building permits that a developer could carry over into future years. After two years, unused allocations would be wiped out and a developer would again have to compete for them, Hunter said. No such limits now exist.

Measure F Committee members say the new ordinance would make growth steadier from year to year.

But Carlsberg and other developers have said that the economy should dictate the amount of building. They have argued that they need to hold onto housing allocations in slow years so that they can build when people are buying homes.

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Carlsberg tried for six years to build its project before suing the city in 1991 over the number of homes allowed. Settlement negotiations have taken place ever since.

Councilman Scott Montgomery, who voted for the settlement, said it would not only end the legal confrontation but benefit the city in other ways. Under the settlement, the developer will have to improve two major roadways and build a much-needed business park, Montgomery said.

“It’s the perfect compromise,” he said. “We achieve the goals of our original growth-control ordinance, while allowing the developer to complete his project.”

Carlsberg President Ron Tankersley has said that his company would not have agreed to a settlement had the city not exempted the company from future changes in law.

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Councilman Hunter said the council caved in to Carlsberg.

“This is not a compromise, it’s a concession,” he said. “I feel my vote against the settlement reflects the view of a majority of residents in the city who want effective growth control. I’m concerned now about what sort of precedent this exemption sets.”

The council and Carlsberg have agreed to sign settlement documents at a City Council meeting scheduled for Sept. 7. At that same meeting they are expected to approve Carlsberg’s development plan.

Carlsberg officials said the company would take another year before construction begins on the project. They said they do not know how many years it will take to build all 552 houses.

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