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Water: Freshwater Protection
Lawsuit challenges Tapestry
Environmental groups cite lack of water, say endangered species will suffer
By Rene De La Cruz
HESPERIA — A coalition of public interest groups on Friday filed a lawsuit that challenges the city of Hesperia’s approval of the controversial Tapestry Project.
The City Council approved the project last month after the Texas-based Terra Verde Group presented the project to the public in January 2015. The master-planned community, which would feature more than 16,000 housing units, is scheduled to be constructed in southeast Hesperia.
“This poorly sited and insufficiently reviewed project would plunge a dagger into the heart of one of the region’s most beautiful and important ecosystems,” Center for Biological Diversity Staff Attorney April Rose Sommer said in a written statement. “There’s not enough water to sustain a development of this size, the greenhouse gas emissions will be staggering, and the area’s wildlife and wildlands will suffer greatly if this ill-conceived project is built.”
The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of public-interest groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society and the Sierra Club, which said the master-planned community would “destroy more than 5,800 acres of wildlands, endangered species' critical habitat, wetlands and farmland.”
Responding to the CBD’s intention to challenge the approval of the Tapestry Specific Plan, “the City Attorney’s Office will be preparing to defend the City in this matter and the alleged violation of the California Environmental Quality Act,” Hesperia spokeswoman Rachel Molina said.
The project, expected to grow Hesperia's population perhaps by 50,000 or more, would include 1.4 million square feet of commercial and retail space. The lawsuit said it would threaten at least two dozen protected species, including federally designated habitat for the endangered arroyo toad and Southwestern willow flycatcher.
The lawsuit challenges the project’s approval as a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act and the Subdivision Map Act. The development would increase the size of the “arid town of Hesperia by more than 50 percent, adding approximately 47,500 new residents to an area already suffering from an insufficient water supply,” the Center for Biological Diversity's statement said.
“We usually don’t comment on active litigation and I have not seen the complaint against the city,” Terra Verde Group Director of Development John Ohanian told the Daily Press. “We will work with the city to determine the best direction. We respectively disagree with their conclusion and we have appropriately worked through the CEQA process.”
Drew Feldman with the Audubon Society said developments like the Tapestry Project “pushes rare plants and animals to the brink of extinction. This area needs protection, not development.”
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