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Judge Halts Work on New High School in San Juan

May 16, 2003|Claire Luna | Times Staff Writer

Acting on a slow-growth group's lawsuit, a Superior Court judge Thursday halted construction of San Juan Capistrano's first public high school in four decades pending a May 30 hearing.

Citizens Against Uncontrolled San Juan Expansion sued the Capistrano Unified School District two weeks ago, alleging that the district was planning to grade the site beyond what the campus requires and asking that construction be stopped until the suit is resolved.

Mark Nielsen, the organization's co-chairman, said the Santa Ana court's order was encouraging. "Obviously, there must have been some merit in our claims or the court wouldn't have granted a temporary restraining order," he said.

District officials emphasized the order was temporary and were confident that construction will be allowed to proceed after the hearing. San Juan Hills High is scheduled to open in fall 2005.

"We feel we have a compelling case, and we will make our case in two weeks' time," said David Smollar, a district spokesman.

The high school was originally part of a proposed housing development, Whispering Hills, that was voted down in a citywide referendum last fall.

School board members voted in December to move forward with plans to build the campus. Under state law, the district has the right to override local zoning.

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