WALNUT - City officials announced that a lawsuit was filed Wednesday morning over an NFL stadium entertainment complex proposed for neighboring Industry.
The city in September took a formal stand opposing a 75,000-seat stadium-entertainment complex proposed near the 57/60 freeway interchange and has threatened litigation for months.
The 600-acre site was originally proposed as a business office park but billionaire developer Ed Roski, Jr. announced plans in April to build a football stadium and bring an NFL team to Los Angeles.
"This is an entirely different type of project," said attorney Jan Chatten-Brown, special council hired by Walnut to deal with the stadium issue. "This project will have a tremendous biological impact in addition to traffic, noise and aesthetic impacts on the surrounding communities."
The project violates various aspects of the California Environmental Quality Act, she said, including failures to correctly state the size of the project or seek possible alternative sites.
Industry officials have maintained they feel the supplemental document reflecting the change to a stadium is sufficient.
Mike Kissell, Industry's planning director, said that a new environmental report would not be different than the supplement report.
"They feel that's their only avenue to follow and they've done it within the time frame that the law prescribes," he said. "Obviously that's been their position."
Walnut officials said they want Industry to produce
City officials said Walnut could spend about $200,000 on stadium-related litigation - $150,000 of which has already been appropriated. The money is drawn from the city's general fund reserve of $15 million, officials said.
A representatives for Majestic Realty blasted Walnut's elected officials for failing to negotiate for mitigations and forcing litigation.
"We're not surprised they're filing lawsuits because they have no way to protect themselves now," said Majestic Vice President and spokesmen John Semcken. "They've never asked us for anything and the only way to ask for anything now is to sue us."
Semcken added Majestic has never encountered a situation like the one with Walnut.
"The ex-mayor of Walnut (Joaquin Lim) is the only elected official that was asked to see the the project and refused," he said. "Then he started attacking his council members. They were put in an untenable political situation."
Lim said he has met with Roski and Industry officials and asked for a new environmental report, but been denied his request.
"I can't see how one (City Council) member can get the other members to do the things that he wants them to do," Lim said. "I think it's the residents. If they see their environment is going to be threatened, they want to let their elected officials know by showing up at City Council meetings."
The lawsuit comes as the city grapples with rising divisions among residents and three possible City Council recalls.
Mayor Mary Su and Councilwoman Nancy Tragarz were served recall papers by vocal NFL stadium opponents who said they did not show strong enough opposition to the project.
Lim was next to receive recall papers, which he attributed to the stadium issue.
Sheriff's detectives are also investigating several vandalism incidents from this month in which pro-stadium signs in front of homes and a sidewalk were spray-painted with red, anti-stadium messages.
Su said the goal of the lawsuit is to ensure residents are not impacted by the proposed project.
"We are all fighting for our beautiful city landscape, to make sure we have minimal impact," she said.
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