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Annexation of 804 acres on Harris Grade Road north of Lompoc for a proposed housing development will be considered at 7 p.m. Tuesday by the City Council.

If the Purisima Hills development is approved, about 960 homes could be planned on a cleaned-up oil field owned by the Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP). The site is three miles north of Lompoc, west of Harris Grade Road, and is part of 3,700 acres owned by the Houston-based oil company in the area just north of Vandenberg Village.

If the council accepts the application for annexation, the developers would submit a specific plan for development and an environmental impact report (EIR) would be conducted on the site, followed by public hearings on the findings. After an EIR is certified by the city, the annexation matter would have to be approved by LAFCO.

If the council rejects the application, then the developers would apply to the county to rezone the property for residential use, said PXP consultant Frances Romero, of the Santa Maria-based Urban Planning Concepts firm.

The issue of building homes on an abandoned oil field has upset area residents who say the idea is dangerous for future residents. Opponents of the plan fear fire danger, health hazards from building on an oil field, explosion or leak danger from the nearby Lompoc Oil and Gas Plant, and poor access in and out of the proposed development in the event of a disaster.

&#8220There/s going to be a substantial risk to the residents of those homes coming from the nearby oil and gas plant across Harris Grade Road,C said Vandenberg Village resident Jon Picciuolo. &#8220The plant handles highly explosive and toxic hydrogen sulfide gas and a leak or an explosion could bring disaster.C

He added, &#8220If PXP wants to develop that land for a residential project, it should really go to the county and let the county decide. The county has the experts in petroleum facilities risk and the city does not.C

The city Planning

Commission in January suggested further studies were needed, including an analysis showing how the cost of providing public safety services to Purisima Hills would be paid.

Developers say they have reduced the scope of the project after listening to public feedback gained from a series of information forums and meetings regarding the development held over the past several years. The project now has 213 of the 804 acres identified for residential development. The area had been set at 339 acres. Developers also planned for 1,300 homes, though that figure has been reduced to 960.

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&#8220We came up with reduced area for this project and I think it/s more representative of what we felt the public was saying to us,C Romero said. &#8220We feel like we/ve responded to the public comments of a reduced project. We looked at the area and by reducing the units, we reduced the traffic impact. Because this is a 25 percent reduction in the number of units.

Romero said developers are studying additional access options for traffic in and out of the site.

&#8220Basically, we will fully remediate the site into a residential area and it will be thoroughly studied through the EIR process.C

Neil Nisperos can be reached at 737-1059 or nnisperos@lompocrecord.com.

August 3, 2007

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