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Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead

The Press-Enterprise, October 27, 2008

Court says county erred in OKing Lake Arrowhead development
By Zeke Minaya, The Press-Enterprise

A state appeals court Monday upheld a lower court's ruling that San Bernardino County disregarded part of its general plan when it approved a Lake Arrowhead housing development without first requiring completion of an evacuation route.

The California Fourth District Court of Appeal also went further than a lower court, ruling that a water supply was not properly identified for the proposed 57-home development south of Cumberland and Blue Ridge drives and that the environmental impact on the Southern Rubber Boa, a threatened species of snake found on the project site, was not properly evaluated.

The original suit was filed in San Bernardino Superior Court in December 2005 by the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, the Save Our Forest Association, Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity, against Hawarden Development and the county.

"We're very happy with the decision," said the local Audubon Society chapter President Drew Feldmann. "We went after this particular case because it was one of the first (development projects) after the big fire of 2003."

The subdivision project, known as Blue Ridge Estates, was planned for a steep slope near Cedar Glen; an area hit hard by 2003's Old Fire.

The three-judge appeals panel ruled the completion of Cumberland Road from Cedar Glen to Highway 18 was required by the county's general plan. Previously, Hawarden officials said the road requirement would be to expensive.

County spokesman David Wert said officials have yet to study the decision. The county, however, has little stake in the outcome that was "in reality a matter between (the plaintiffs) and the developer. It's up to the developer to take the case further or to submit a different proposal," Wert said.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the case could be appealed in the state Supreme Court. Attorneys for Hawarden Development Co. were not immediately available to comment.

© 2008 Press-Enterprise Company
Photo © Paul S. Hamilton