BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The development of the largest Kern County community after Bakersfield has hit a setback, according to developers.
New homes, condos, apartments, and about 10-thousand jobs are expecting to come out of the building of the Grapevine project. The project was set to build at least 12,000 homes and 5.1 million square feet of commercial and residential development in the area.
Developers say a judge has ruled against the Tejon Ranch Company on one of seven points brought against the company in a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity. They say even then it is just a point that needs clarification.
The Center for Biological Diversity says Judge Kenneth Twisselman II found that Kern County's environmental review 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.
Barry Zoller with Tejon Ranch says this is because there were different numbers included by different groups on the submitted environmental reviews. He says the judge wants these groups to come to a consensus before signing off of the project.
The Center for Biological Diversity has argued that the Grapevine project presents a threat to the environment. They said that Grapevine would destroy habitats for 36 rare plants and animals and suck up about 2.6 billion gallons of water per year from the Kern River. Those arguments the judge rejected.
“This ruling makes clear that the county didn’t fully inform the public about the probable environmental impacts of adding tens of thousands of cars to California’s traffic-clogged freeways,” J.P. Rose, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity said. “Californians deserve real solutions to the housing shortage — not far-flung mega-developments many miles from existing cities and job centers.”
Zoeller said that there will be a hearing on February 15 where the judge will provide a remedy to fix the consistency. Zoeller believes that the county will be able to respond after the hearing and that the project will continue as planned.