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Should Incorporation Require an EIR?

A New Lawsuit Revives the Issue



Carmel Pine Cone, Jan. 30, 2009

By CHRIS COUNTS

EVEN THOUGH a judge ruled in May
2008 that the incorporation of Carmel Valley
didn’t have to be analyzed in an environmental
impact report, a new lawsuit contends
incorporation supporters should be required
to provide the expensive study.
The suit was filed Jan. 23 by Carmel
Valley resident Frank Lunding, a statewide
nonprofit group, 20/20 Vision, and a local
nonprofit organization, Protect Carmel
Valley.

The defendants in the case are the
Monterey County Local Agency Formation
Commission and the Carmel Valley Forum,
the nonprofit group leading the incorporation
drive.

According to the lawsuit, incorporation of
Carmel Valley would result in new traffic
patterns and the construction of a city government
center, which the complaint contends
will adversely affect the environment.
The lawsuit also argues the city’s limited
budget will be insufficient to pay for public
transit or the area’s existing flood insurance,
creating further environmental problems.
“There is no doubt a new town will have
an environmental impact on the area,”
Lunding said.

In response to a lawsuit filed by the
Carmel Valley Forum, Monterey County
Superior Court Judge Lydia Villarreal ruled
in May 2008 that proponents should not have
to do an EIR.

“There is no substantial evidence in the
record of any potential effect on the physical
environment,” wrote Villarreal, who also decided
incorporation does not constitute a project.
Despite Villarreal’s ruling, Lunding is
confident he and his fellow plaintiffs can win
the EIR battle in court.

“We disagreed with her,” Lunding said. “I
thought LAFCO’s counsel did a wonderful
job. The record is full of items that require an
EIR. The California Environmental Quality
Act is very clear.”

Kate McKenna, LAFCO executive officer,
said it’s too early to comment on the lawsuit.
“The commission discussed the matter
during closed session Monday,” McKenna
explained.

When asked if taxpayers will bear any of
the burden for defending the lawsuit,
McKenna said LAFCO’s approval in
December of the incorporation proposal
included a condition that proponents indemnify
LAFCO against any legal challenges.
Michael Stamp, who represented the
Carmel Valley Forum in the case Villarreal
ruled on, brushed off the lawsuit.
“It’s a rehashing of an argument LAFCO
already lost,” Stamp said. “Nothing has
changed. An EIR was not required in 2006,
2007, 2008 or now.”

Glenn Robinson, a Carmel Valley residents
and incorporation supporter, believes
the lawsuit is only a stalling tactic.
“Lunding and his group are abusing the
legal system to try to prevent the people of
Carmel Valley from voting,” Robinson
insisted. “It is quite clear from the weakness
of their legal cases that their intent is not to
win in court, but to overwhelm and bankrupt
the C.V. Forum and the people of Carmel
Valley, and thus prevent an election from occurring.”




Last Updated: Feb 01, 09

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