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Court Ruling Goes Against La Vina Foes : Housing: Appellate judges reverse a Superior Court decision that the environmental report was tainted because developers paid for it.

August 08, 1991

A state Court of Appeal decision has taken the La Vina development project in Altadena out of limbo.

The 2-1 decision reverses a Superior Court ruling that consultants for the project were not objective because they were employed by developers.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal said Monday that there was no inherent taint in an environmental impact report on a plan to build 272 houses on the 220-acre site of a former tuberculosis sanitarium.

The report was prepared by the Planning Center in Newport Beach for developers Cantwell-Anderson and Southwest Diversified.

The court referred the matter back to Superior Court Judge John Zebrowski, who had ruled against the 21-year-old practice of using developer-paid consultants to prepare environmental reports. Zebrowski must examine the report to determine if it is legally sufficient and whether the county adequately supervised and reviewed it, said Darlene Phillips, who argued the case for the county.

Robert Kuenzel, who represents Friends of La Vina, the project's prime opponents, said Wednesday that the group had not decided whether to return to the Court of Appeal or take the issue to the state Supreme Court. Kuenzel said opponents are disappointed but confident they will ultimately win.

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