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Council Votes to Cut Number of Homes in Bid to Advance Project

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Frustrated by the slow pace of a developer’s efforts to build 216 homes in northern Moorpark, the City Council voted Wednesday night to drastically cut the number of homes the property could hold.

Council members unanimously approved an ordinance that would change the zoning on 655 acres between Walnut Canyon and Grimes Canyon roads, land on which developer Paul Bollinger hopes to build houses and two golf courses, back to its original rural designation.

The move, council members said, was intended to push the project forward, not kill it. Noting that the ordinance would not take effect for at least 45 days, they said Bollinger still had time to secure financing.

“It gives them time to do the project, but the clock’s ticking,” Councilman John Wozniak said.

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The vote came despite assurances that a major national home-building company was ready to commit to the project.

Jay Kopel, division president of Centex Homes, told the council that his company plans to sign an agreement with Bollinger.

“The agreement will be signed tomorrow,” Kopel said.

Under the $68-million deal, Centex would take title to the land and build the homes. Centex would form a joint venture with another investor to build the golf courses, Kopel said.

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But council members said they were concerned that Centex did not plan to sign the project’s development agreement until it was ready to seek grading permits for construction, which isn’t expected until May or June. And they expressed frustration that nine months after Bollinger won council approval for his plans, he still had not closed the deal.

The project was approved by a divided council in April 1996. The council first discussed downzoning the land in October, but delayed the move several times to give Bollinger more opportunities to line up financing.

Council members also complained that Bollinger still owed the city $20,000 in development fees.

Bollinger disputed some of the fees and apologized for the delays.

“I was a bit aggressive in [suggesting] how quickly I could get it done. . . . I’m human, I make mistakes.”

The council said the rezoning step was the only way to move the project forward. Should Bollinger and Centex reach an agreement, the council can delay the second reading of the ordinance, which would prevent the zoning changes from taking effect.

The council tentatively plans the second reading of the ordinance at its next meeting.


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