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THOUSAND OAKS : Adventist Project Heads to City Council

A proposal by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to build a shopping center, private school and retirement housing in Newbury Park will go to the City Council without a recommendation from the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission on key portions of the plan.

Early Tuesday morning, a divided commission finished its discussion of the project, split 2 to 2 on whether to recommend that the council approve or reject parts of the project. Commissioners let stand tie votes taken last week on the project’s environmental impact report, a corresponding general plan amendment and the project’s specific plan.

Commissioner Joseph Gibson, who has been ill because of complications from diabetes, has missed several recent meetings and did not vote on the project.

Those tie votes, according to the city attorney’s office, mean the commission neither approved or denied those elements of the project.

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After seven evenings to discuss the project, commissioners were only able to reach a majority decision on one of the plan’s aspects: rejecting 3 to 1 a request to allow the removal of two fully grown sycamore trees, which are considered landmarks.

Commissioners Ronald Polanski and John Powers said the project would benefit the community economically and allow the church, which has owned the property for decades, to use the land as it desired.

“I think this is an exceptional project,” Polanski said. “I think the Adventists are exceptional neighbors. . . .Fifteen years down the line, we’ll look at this project and be very proud of it.”

Commissioners Marilyn Carpenter and Linda Parks argued that the 458-acre project violated the city’s general plan, would harm valuable natural resources and would bring too much development to Newbury Park.

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“I think if we lived with the philosophy of, ‘It’s your land--do whatever you like with it,’ we’d be living a lot more like the San Fernando Valley,” Parks said.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the project Dec. 12.


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