Developer Offers Funds for Bypass

Seeking approval for Hidden Creek Ranch, a 3,200-home project north of Moorpark College, a developer is offering the City Council an incentive: up to $12.8 million toward construction of a bypass to route California 118 traffic around town.

Gary Austin, vice president of Messenger Investment Co., said the development company is negotiating with the city to pay $4,000 per house in fees the city could use for any transportation project.

If all 3,200 homes the developer plans are built, the $12.8 million would cover much of the $24 million to $28 million that a bypass is expected to cost.

"The City Council could very conceivably have the funds to build the 118 bypass," Austin said during the city's 16th public hearing on the project. "The ball is in the city's court."

The bypass, though much desired by residents tired of truck traffic clogging city streets, is a low priority on county and state highway construction lists.

"The bypass is the No. 1 benefit of the Messenger project," Councilman Chris Evans said. But he added that the developer must do much more than just offer that money.

"What he's proposing is $12 million," Evans said. "I want an implementation plan for how the bypass is going in, and the development of the project linked to the development of the bypass."

The next public hearing on the Hidden Creek Ranch project will be Wednesday at City Hall.

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