Appellate Court Rules in Favor of Tejon Mountain Village

FRAZIER PARK, CA (Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 4:45 p.m.)–The California Fifth District Court of Appeal today rejected a challenge to the Tejon Mountain Village (TMV) development in Lebec and affirmed a lower court’s decision to deny a petition by four non-profit organizations which sought to reverse Kern County’s 2009 approval of the project.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and three other groups argued that the environmental impact report (EIR) prepared by the county prior to its approval of the project was "deficient in its treatment of five topics: (1) air pollution; (2) water supply; (3) Native American cultural resources; (4) the California condor; and (5) the exclusion of a lake from the project boundaries," according to the opinion filed by the court today.

"We disagree and affirm the judgment," wrote judges Charles Poochigian, Herbert Levy and Rebecca Wiseman.

The challengers, which included CBD, TriCounty Watchdogs, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment and Wishtoyo Foundation, brought their suit under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in November of 2009.

Land owner Tejon Ranch had struck an agreement in May of 2008 with major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon California, the Planning and Conservation League and the Endangered Habitats League, by which the groups would refrain from opposition to the Tejon Mountain Mountain Village 26,000 acre development in exchange for assurances that the ranch would preserve about 90 percent of of its 270,000 acres as contiguous habitat.

Today’s court decision moves TMV’s plans more clearly out of the woods, but at a time when the housing market is still floundering nationwide.

Senior Counsel for the Center on Biological Diversity Adam Keats told Bakersfield’s KGET TV, "It’s very disappointing…We feel the appeals court missed many of the important arguments and got a lot of the analysis wrong. We are considering our options. We think there is a strong basis for reconsideration and are weighing seeking that from the court."

This is part of the April 20, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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