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Lawsuit filed against Kern County Board of Supervisors, Tejon Ranch Co. over Grapevine Project

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Posted at 12:58 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 18:44:20-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — After being unanimously reapproved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors, the Grapevine project is once again facing backlash.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the reapproval, citing negative environmental impacts of the project under the California Environmental Quality Act.

"This project is bad for people and wildlife,” said Ileene Anderson, a scientist at the Center, in a press release about the lawsuit. “Grapevine will push the imperiled kit fox closer to extinction while clogging the I-5 with even more long-distance commuters and adding to the region’s air pollution burden.”

Read the full statement below:

On Thursday, the county filed to discharge a previous ruling that blocked the project from moving forward. A hearing for this motion is scheduled for Feb. 14.

The Tejon Ranch Co. swiftly responded to the new lawsuit.

"In this new lawsuit, CBD attempts to re-litigate many of the issues on which it already sued and previously lost," said Barry Zoeller, a spokesperson for the Tejon Ranch Co., in a statement responding to the lawsuit. "To sue again over issues that previously the court ruled in favor of Tejon Ranch on, and on an issue it did not even raise for consideration by Kern County, is unconscionable and a huge waste of taxpayer dollars."

Read the full statement below:

The Grapevine project is set to be the largest development in Kern County after Bakersfield, according to developers. The 8,010-acre project is set to build at least 12,000 homes and 5.1 million square feet of commercial and residential development in the area. It's expected to bring new homes, condos, apartments and about 10-thousand jobs.

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The Center previously challenged the project in January 2017.

In August 2018, a Kern County Judge ruled that the county's environmental review for this project was inadequate because it failed to disclose the impacts of the project on air quality and public health in the event that the county's traffic projections were incorrect.

The judge gave the developers of the project, the Tejon Ranch Company, and the county until February of 2019 to find a remedy for the project. During a hearing on Feb. 16, 2019 the judge set aside the environmental review.

In April 2019, the county began drafting another environmental review for the project. That review was approved and the Grapevine project was once again put back in motion in December 2019.