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Compromise Reached on Irvine Co. Project

September 03, 1997

Environmental groups have reached an agreement with the Irvine Co. in a dispute over development along Newport Coast, between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.

Under the agreement, the developer will make several concessions, including setting aside an additional 70 acres for open space. The settlement also requires that parking for a planned commercial center be pushed back 100 feet from Pacific Coast Highway and that fewer homes be built in some environmentally sensitive areas.

The coalition of environmental groups, including Friends of the Irvine Coast, Laguna Greenbelt and Stop Polluting Our Newport, had filed lawsuits against the California Coastal Commission and the county. The groups alleged that the California Coastal Act and the California Environmental Quality Act had been violated when the developer was allowed to shift planned development from inland parcels near Newport Coast Drive to land closer to the beach.

While some shift in the development will still occur and the overall number of homes remains the same, the settlement agreement will help lessen the impact on the environment, said Fern Pirkle, president of Friends of the Irvine Coast.

"We feel it's a significant accomplishment," she said.

A spokeswoman for the Irvine Co. called the agreement "an appropriate resolution" of the lawsuit.

BY LESLIE EARNEST AND LESLEY WRIGHT

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