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Education Panel Backs Local Campus Plan : Growth: Antelope Valley College branch would be built on land offered by businessman in exchange for annexation and development rights.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A proposed Palmdale branch campus for Antelope Valley College received a favorable review Monday during a meeting in Sacramento of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, officials said.

Bill Storey, chief policy analyst for the commission, said the panel was pleased with the 100-acre campus land donation offered by businessman David P. Bushnell, founder of the binoculars company that bears his name.

“The commission seems to like the proposal, and I have every expectation that they’ll approve it in October,” Storey said.

Bushnell owns a 540-acre site southeast of Palmdale and has offered 100 acres of it to Lancaster-based Antelope Valley College for a second campus to serve the fast-growing southern part of the region.

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In exchange, Bushnell wants the city of Palmdale to annex his land and give him permission to build about 1,000 homes, a golf course and a small retail center on his remaining acreage.

The Postsecondary Education Commission, which makes recommendations to the governor and the California Legislature, discussed the proposed Palmdale campus during Monday’s meeting and heard a plea for approval from Antelope Valley College President Allan Kurki.

The matter will return for a final vote during a commission meeting scheduled for Oct. 23 and 24.

Storey said commission members expressed general concerns about how to pay for construction of the campus but supported the location and the proposed land donation. The panel’s recommendation is important because the Legislature has never funded a new campus that was was not first endorsed by the commission, Storey said.

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The proposed campus will face another hurdle Wednesday night, when the Palmdale City Council will consider a request to annex almost 900 acres into Palmdale, including Bushnell’s property.

In addition to his own 540 acres, Bushnell has proposed the annexation of another 360 acres, owned by other people, to connect his property to the current Palmdale city line.

The Bushnell property is south of Barrel Spring Road and west of 47th Street East. The other 360 acres run from Barrel Springs Road north to the city’s current boundary, Pearblossom Highway.

City planning officials said they are uncertain whether the owners of the additional 360 acres favor or oppose annexation into Palmdale.

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Mayor Jim Ledford said he may vote at Wednesday’s meeting to begin annexation of the Bushnell site. But he said he wants to review detailed plans for the entire 540-acre development before making a final decision on bringing the land into the city.

“Certainly, the college is the apple pie of this project,” the mayor said. “Everybody wants the college. It’s the related uses on the rest of the property that may create some controversy.”

The owners of another 500 acres immediately west of the Bushnell property have asked the council to add their land to the annexation proposal. The city staff has not recommended the expanded annexation but said the council has the option to approve it.

If approved Wednesday by the council, an annexation proposal will go to the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees annexations. That panel will conduct a hearing and vote on the proposed boundary change, then return the matter to the Palmdale City Council for final approval.

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