City of Walnut opposes NFL stadium, files lawsuit

By Ariel Carmona Jr.

With construction from other projects along Grand Avenue already
obstructing traffic leading into Cal Poly, the City of Walnut filed
a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court opposing an Environmental
Impact Report approved by City of Industry.

The move is in an effort to delay creation of a NFL stadium
proposed on April 17, 2008.Billionaire Ed Roski Jr. of Majestic
Reality Co. is seeking to build an $800-million stadium in Industry
as part of a shopping and entertainment complex near the
intersections of the 57 and 60 freeways.

“The basis [of the lawsuit] is violations of the California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) but also a number of other state
laws and the city of industry’s own municipal code,” Special
Counsel Jan Chatten-Brown said at a press conference held at the
council chambers on March 25. “The violations of the CEQA we think
are quite egregious. And we’re confident that a judge will set
aside the EIR that was prepared for the project,” she said.

At the Feb. 26 council meeting, Industry approved the EIR for
the proposed 75,000- seat stadium and retail complex by a 5-0 vote,
thereby exacerbating an issue which has polarized residents on both
sides of the controversy.

While some residents contend that Walnut, Diamond Bar and
surrounding areas are bedroom communities and their quality of life
will be disrupted by the development, others claim that the
economic impact of the proposed project on the region would be a
significant boon given the current economic downturn.

Walnut City Manager Rob Wishner said the Walnut City Council
authorized Chatten-Brown to file the lawsuit based on environmental
grounds and passed by a 4-1 vote a resolution to appropriate
$150,000 from its general fund to challenge the Industry EIR in
court.

Wishner said the city does not have a cap on litigation expenses
and estimated it could cost up to $200,000 to oppose the stadium
project.

“The City of Industry attempted to characterize this as a
revised project but in fact, the project that they reviewed in 2004
was an entirely different project, it was an industrial commercial
project. The existing project that has now been approved is for an
NFL stadium entertainment complex, retail restaurant project,”
Chatten-Brown said.

The attorney added Industry misrepresented itself in its
environmental report because it had originally proposed a different
project in 2004.

“This is a massive project. We’re talking about 592 acres of
land being developed. It is far more specific that the conceptual
plan discussed in the 2004 EIR, This project will have a tremendous
biological impact in addition to traffic, noise and aesthetic
impacts on the surrounding communities,” said Chatten-Brown.

The lawsuit names the City of Industry, Industry Business Center
LLC, and Majestic Realty along with Roski, whose company has built
stadiums throughout North America including the Staples Center in
downtown Los Angeles.

“We are fighting for the right kind of mitigation, we are trying
to protect the residents of Walnut and to preserve their quality of
life,” said Walnut Mayor Mary Su.

According to Wishner and Walnut Director of Community
Development Daniel Fox, Industry’s violations besides failing to
adequately describe the project in their report include: “Failure
to analyze a reasonable range of alternatives to the project
including a stadium at the Coliseum, Rose Bowl or other locations,
reliance upon outdated projections of water supply and solid waste
capacity, failure to ensure adequate police and fire protection for
the area.”

Walnut city officials at the March 25 press conference declined
to comment on three possible city council recalls filed by
residents on both sides of the issue, but former Walnut Mayor
Joaquin Lim has been very vocal in his opposition to the project
and is also a target for political opponents who are calling for
him to step down.

Reach Ariel Carmona at news@thepolypost.com

City of Walnut opposes NFL stadium, files lawsuit

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City of Walnut opposes NFL stadium, files lawsuit

City of Walnut opposes NFL stadium, files lawsuit

James Choy/Poly Post

City of Walnut opposes NFL stadium, files lawsuit

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