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MANDEVILLE CANYON : Group Criticizes Builder's Impact Report


In the latest chapter of what has become a tortuous three-year saga, a local environmental group has declared its opposition to an environmental impact report prepared by a development company that intends to build a 67-acre community atop the Santa Monica Mountains.

Eric Edmunds, president of Save Our Mountains Inc., said this week that although developer Coscan/Davidson's three-volume, more than 1,500-page study--released two months ago for public comment--appears comprehensive, it fails to address many of the significant issues his group has raised.

Edmunds said the document among other things neglects to examine the issue of evacuating residents in case of fire in the canyon.

"It gives the impression by its sheer bulk that it's enormously thorough," Edmunds said. "After you scratch the surface, it doesn't withstand scrutiny. It's very illusory."

Andrew Oliver, the development's project manager, said the group's opposition to the report had been anticipated, given the ongoing resistance the group has shown toward the development, which would include 34 estate sites near Mandeville Canyon and Chalon roads.

"They have assumed that there (will be) no project at all," Oliver said, "and when you assume that, there is nothing we can do that will satisfy them."

Oliver said the report is well-researched and comprehensive precisely because of the developer's respect for the tenacity of the group. "We believe this document is bulletproof," he said.

After the filing of the group's opposition to the report with the city, Coscan/Davidson will have an opportunity to comment on the group's objections. The entire document--including comments and counter-comments--will then be reviewed by various city agencies before the project is put to a City Council vote. The process could take up to several months.

Even if the city gives the project a go-ahead, Edmunds said, his group and others on the Westside that oppose the development will continue to fight it. "This is going to have to survive a lot of hurdles before the bulldozers get started," he said. "This is not a well-loved project."

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