Farmont Golf Course: Bennett
views water as key issue
by Kelly Feser Eells
However Supervisor Steve Bennett's constituents might view the
Farmont Golf Course project, they can be certain that he takes
a wide angle, "real time" view of it - particularly
where water comes into the picture.
Bennett's recommendation that Ventura County Planning staff rewrite
the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report contract(s) to include,
minimally, a reassessment of the project's use of groundwater
and, optimally, new and "monitorable" mitigation measures
was unanimously approved.
Staff will return to the Board of Supervisors for approval of
the rewritten contracts on Jan. 29 at 9:30 a.m.
As Bennett had previously pointed out, " this is a substantially
different project" than the one approved in 1993. The applicant,
Intell Development Corp., has proposed modifications to the project
that make "feasibility of the adopted mitigation measures
The adopted conditional use permit included conditions that implemented
the original EIR mitigation measure of limiting groundwater consumption
on the entire 2,000-acre property (adjacent to Rancho Matilija),
restricting water use to 407 acre feet per year. However, in
a letter submitted to the board on Jan. 8, Bennett explains that
the proposed removal of the 1,500 acres of property dedicated
to open space, combined with the request that the project be
reconfigured for public, rather than private, use severely compromises
the feasibility of the original study.
In addition, portions of arable land, per Bennett, have already
been sold, without implementing any restrictions on water use.
"Taken together, the actual sale of properties, the active
marketing for sale of the remaining properties, and the elimination
of the permanent protection of the current open space lands together
eviscerate the adopted mitigation measures for the project's
use of groundwater and the county's regulatory mechanism for
implementation, monitoring, and enforcing them."
Bennett further concluded that increasing the rounds of golf
per day from 35 to 130, and opening the course to the general
public, are issues that must be included in the scope of the
new study. "Water use at the (proposed) clubhouse and rest
rooms will increase at least four-fold, and the impact of this
increase should be addressed in the EIR."
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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