Ventura County supervisors tightened development rules for 27,900 acres between Ventura and Santa Paula on Tuesday as part of a countywide effort to stem urban sprawl by creating greenbelts. County and municipal leaders made a handshake deal 40 years ago to preserve the fertile cropland and mountainous terrain between the two cities. But the boundaries of that preserve had never been clear, county officials said. The ordinance that the Board of Supervisors approved 4 to 0 not only specifies the acreage but is hard to undo, said Deborah Millais, a county planning official.
The first victim has already spoken up:
Supervisors rejected a property owner’s request that a portion of her family’s land be excluded from the greenbelt. Carol D’Egidio told supervisors that the family hoped to build commercial properties on one of the seven acres they own at Wells and Telegraph roads. The property, just outside Ventura city limits, is close to other commercial development, D’Egidio said. But supervisors noted that the greenbelt boundaries had already been approved by the cities of Ventura and Santa Paula. They told D’Egidio that her family could still ask Ventura to annex the one-acre property into the city and change the zoning to allow building. “We should respect this greenbelt process,” Supervisor Steve Bennett said. “I don’t think that would send a healthy message that we wanted to take [this one parcel] out of the greenbelt.” After the vote, D’Egidio said her family had no choice but to work with the city on annexation. Litigation would be too costly, she said. “It’s like inverse condemnation,” she said of the board’s action. “They are really taking away our ability to use it in any way.”
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