Bay Bay hotel opponents sue over environmental report

Bay Bay hotel opponents sue over environmental report

Source: Orange County Register (CA), March 21, 2014
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A local group has filed a lawsuit against the city, the City Council and the developer involved in a project in the Back Bay challenging the validity of the environmental impact report that was approved by council members last month.

The developer, Bayside Village Marina LLC., has plans for 32,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and office space, a dry stack boat storage building that can accommodate 140 powerboats, and 49 residential units in two- to three-story high structures along Pacific Coast Highway and Bayside Drive.

On Feb. 11, the City Council unanimously approved the project’s environmental impact report (EIR) and other necessary changes to the General Plan and the Coastal Land Use Plan. The development will still need final approval from the council and the California Coastal Commission.

Stop the Dunes Hotel, a political action committee consisting of two residents, filed the lawsuit March 14 in Orange County Superior Court alleging that the environmental report did not adequately address the project’s negative impact.

Newport Beach City Attorney Aaron Harp said he addressed all of the concerns raised by the group’s lawyer, Robert Hawkins, in writing last month before the council approved the EIR. Harp said the City Council after careful consideration determined that the EIR conformed with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Harp said he has not seen the lawsuit yet since the city has not been served.

“But, assuming the lawsuit is based on the comments (Robert Hawkins) made at the (Feb. 11) City Council meeting, it is our opinion that the lawsuit is wholly without merit,” he said.

Bert Ohlig, a Dover Shores resident and one of two members of Stop the Dunes Hotel, said he is deeply concerned about the impact this large development will have on not only the scenic vistas Back Bay residents enjoy, but on the unique flora and fauna that inhabit Newport’s Back Bay.

“I don’t think the city or the developer adhered well to California’s environmental laws that protect us,” he said. “For example, this project includes a 55-foot observation deck that interferes with the view of the most beautiful part of Newport Beach.”

The lawsuit asks the court to enforce California’s environmental protection laws. No future hearing dates have been set for this case.

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