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Ritter Ranch Water System OKd


After months of delays, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday reaffirmed its approval of a water system for a giant Antelope Valley development, setting aside objections of local residents.

On a 3-1 vote, with Supervisor Mike Antonovich dissenting, the board sided with county public works officials who said the water system for the 7,200-house Ritter Ranch project would improve water pressure for fighting fires in the northwest section of the Antelope Valley.

"The sooner we can get moving on this, the better off the existing people in that area of Palmdale are going to be," said Thomas Tidemanson, public works director.

Despite the board action, the project's future remains uncertain. The Palmdale City Council has postponed its plans to annex the area, saying Palmdale may not be able to afford to provide public services for such a huge community. Also, two community groups and a water company have filed suits to block the water system.

Antonovich had asked in April that the board rescind its March 31 approval of the water system after learning that residents and others had requested a full environmental impact report. The water mains planned for the system would be large enough to accommodate far more than Ritter Ranch's 7,200 houses, a circumstance opponents offered as proof that the system itself would be growth-inducing.

Reiterating those concerns on Tuesday, Mark Johnston of the Leona Valley Town Council said the system would be "the largest single water project in the Antelope Valley history, besides the aqueduct."

"It's not Ritter Ranch bashing," Johnston said of the opposition. "This is about the future of the Antelope Valley."

In addition to the Leona Valley group, the Antelope Acres Town Council and the Palmdale Water District also are involved in litigation against the county and the developer, which alleges that an environmental impact report should have been required for the system.

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