SAN GABRIEL — Opponents of a proposed hotel complex on Valley Boulevard have dropped their lawsuit against the city and the developers because a new environmental impact report is being compiled.
The opponents, Citizens for Responsible Development, had maintained that the first environmental report did not take into account the impact of the project on traffic and other developments.
The city does not agree that the initial report was inadequate, said City Administrator Robert Clute. But he said the report has to be updated because the concept of the project has changed.
After the suit was filed last August, the site was sold to developers who have come up with a more precise plan for the property.
The $33-million project would be built on the southwest corner of Valley Boulevard and Del Mar Avenue on the 11.5-acre site of the former Edwards Drive-In Theater. It would include a 4-story, 150-room Ramada Inn, a restaurant and a 45,000-square-foot supermarket.
Work on an updated environmental impact report began last month. Greg O'Sullivan, co-chairman of the citizens group, said the city has agreed that the report will be completed and will be subject to the normal approval process.
"We don't know if the new report) will be adequate, but there will be a new series of public hearings," said Gary Meredith, the group's other co-chairman. "We still don't like the hotel, although the supermarket met one of our concerns because the city needs one there."
When the initial report was completed, only a provisional plan had been submitted, said Carl Schiermeyer, spokesman for the new owners. At that time the plans called for a hotel, a restaurant and either a department store or a supermarket, he said.
In September, George and Roger Chen purchased the site from the original developer, Alethea Hsu, because they were interested in building a supermarket, Schiermeyer said.
"Their background is in the supermarket industry, and they also wanted to go big time," he said. "They had been mainly active in the Asian community, but they wanted a concept that would be attractive to the entire community."
Schiermeyer said the Chen brothers hope that the grocery store, to be called San Gabriel Valley Ranch Market, will be the first of a chain of large supermarkets.
When the developers submitted the new plan to the city in November, the city hired a consultant, Terry Hayes and Associates, to update the environmental impact report. Schiermeyer said it will cover such factors as parking and traffic.
"We welcome the (citizens group's) decision to drop the lawsuit," Schiermeyer said. "It is a constructive gesture and a positive step."
City officials had welcomed the project because potential tax revenues would help offset the closure of a Gemco store in 1986 and the loss of federal revenue sharing funds.
Before filing the lawsuit, Citizens for Responsible Development had lost a court battle to kill the project altogether. But early opposition to the development from residents concerned about traffic and the proliferation of multistory construction triggered anti-growth sentiment in the city.
The citizens group led the successful fight in December for a one-year moratorium on development, and now it is fielding a slate of candidates who hope to defeat three incumbents in the April City Council election. The moratorium will not affect the Valley Boulevard project.