Ventura County supervisors have agreed to allow a petroleum company to pursue permits for a housing project on the site of its former Ventura Avenue refinery.
The board voted 4 to 0 Tuesday to allow USA Petroleum to apply for a zoning change on its 96-acre industrial property, which lies in the county. Because the land is within the city of Ventura's sphere of influence, the city would also have to approve any development project.
USA Petroleum's proposal has drawn protests from environmentalists, who are concerned about possible chemical hazards on the property. But soil samples collected at the site have failed to turn up evidence of hazardous waste, county officials said.
USA Petroleum bought the land from Shell Oil Co. in 1972 and started refining crude oil there two years later.
The oil company proposed a $100-million expansion in the early 1980s, but neighbors succeeded in blocking the move because of environmental concerns. Because the company's profitability depended on the expansion, the company shut down the refinery in 1984.
USA Petroleum has tried unsuccessfully for several years to sell the property.