02 November 2017

2nd Lawsuits Filed by Chino Hills & Diamond Bar Over Tres Hermanos Ranch Sale

As reported by Jason Henry of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar have filed separate lawsuits, and for the second time, challenging the sale of the 2,450-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch to the City of Industry by the Successor Agency to the Urban Development Agency, the former redevelopment agency of the City.

The first suits were filed on the ground that the sale violated state laws governing redevelopment property liquidation.  These new filings argue that Industry's purchase and its recently revealed plans violate California's environmental statutes and are "an illegal gift of public funds."

Chino Hills City Attorney Mark Hensley accused Industry of having "rigorously concealed" the planned solar project and so "failed to maximized the value of the land," as well as rejected an offer of purchase for over $100 million.  Technically, the rejection was from the Successor Agency, which includes of city and county officials.

Industry countered by saying that the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, is not yet at issue because the city is researching the potential for the property and has not advanced to the stage with the solar project to have it be applicable to that law.

Chino Hills Mayor Ray Marquez issued a statement stating that there was a concern "that Industry will use their position as a public agency developing the land for public benefit' to proceed without any input from the residents and the City."

Notably, perennial Chino Hills city council Rossana Mitchell, at a recent meeting, accused Marquez of favoring housing on Tres Hermanos, which she stated most residents do not want, and Marquez responded strongly that this was not the case.

Henry's article concluded by observing that Industry's solar farm plan could be boosted by state policies geared towards ramping up alternative and renewable energy sources.  He noted that the state, nearly a decade ago, agreed to waive CEQA requirements for a proposed football stadium in Industry near the Walnut and Diamond Bar borders and implied this could be attempted at Tres Hermanos.

For more, here is the Tribune article.

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