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Center for Biological Diversity:
Urban Wildlands
Press-Enterprise, September 20, 2011

RIVERSIDE: Settlement will protect habitat near business park
By Alicia Robinson

An environmental group that sued Riverside over a city-approved warehouse project on Alessandro Boulevard announced a settlement Tuesday that requires environmentally friendly buildings and protection of animal habitat.

The project, a business park on an 80-acre site on the north side of Alessandro, can now go forward. Plans for a similar industrial development on the south side of Alessandro, just outside city limits, are still in litigation.

Both suits were part of several environmentalist groups' efforts to firm up the protection of habitat for the endangered Stephens' kangaroo rat. The groups have said the northern parcel already was protected by a 1996 conservation plan, but local officials responded that a "mapping error" included the business park property in the plan.

The settlement -- between the Center for Biological Diversity , the Friends of Riverside's Hills, the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, the San Gorgonio chapter of the Sierra Club , and developer WR Holdings -- requires that about 42 acres be donated to the city of Riverside to become part of the adjacent Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park.

The agreement also says that solar panels must generate 15 percent of the development's power, buildings must have eco-friendly design and use energy-efficient appliances, and less-polluting vehicles should be used in construction and encouraged for employees afterward.

Jonathan Evans , an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity , noted Riverside has its own program to encourage residents and businesses to install solar panels and other energy-saving measures.

"This really supports that and demonstrates that this settlement can really raise the bar for future projects requiring renewable energy," Evans said.

The developer also will benefit from using efficient technology that will save money over time, he said.

A developer's representative could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The city was not involved in crafting the settlement, but Mayor Ron Loveridge said that while the city doesn't require solar panels and other energy-saving measures, "We applaud and support those outcomes."

© 2011 Enterprise Media

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton