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Judge rules in favor of Olivenhain neighbors
Judge tentative rules EIR is needed for Desert Rose housing project

By Edward Sifuentes , April 25, 2014

ENCINITAS — The developers of a controversial housing project planned for a horse property in Olivenhain must conduct an extensive environmental study before the development can move forward, a Superior Court judge ruled on Friday.

Woodridge Farms Estates LLC wants to build 16 homes on what is now a horse boarding facility on Desert Rose Way on the eastern edge of Encinitas. But neighbors sued the city and Woodridge, saying the project should have been subjected to a full environmental review before it was approved by the City Council last year.

Friday’s ruling by Superior Court Judge Judith F. Hayes reinforced a tentative ruling she made last week that found there was substantial evidence “to make a fair argument that the project may cause a significant adverse effect on the environment.”

Everett DeLano, an attorney representing the residents, said his clients were happy about the ruling.

“It’s a victory for the community,” DeLano said. “It really is. It’s what we’ve been saying all along.”

Marco Gonzalez, an attorney for the developer, declined to comment Friday afternoon saying he had not read the judge’s ruling.

However, Gonzalez said after last week’s tentative ruling that the developers were “extremely committed to the project” and that it would eventually move forward even if more environmental review was required.

He the benefits of the project include significant wetlands enhancement and the donation of public trails for pedestrians and horses.

Neighbors have said that 16 homes is too many for the 6-acre lot and that the project doesn’t fit with the neighborhood’s rural character. They also worry about fire and traffic issues.

DeLano said having a full environmental impact study would allow the city to consider those effects in more detail.

The city’s Planning Commission agreed with the neighbors last year and voted to reject the proposal. But the City Council later overturned the decision saying that a state affordable housing law gives the developer special privileges, such as permission to put additional homes on their lots, if some of those homes are set aside for low-income residents.

The project would require that one of the homes go to a low-income family.

In her ruling, Hayes said the Planning Commission’s findings were enough to establish a “fair argument” that the project could have detrimental effects on the environment requiring the more in-depth study.


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