City of Walnut Sues to Stop NFL Stadium Construction

Sun April 12, 2009 - West Edition

LOS ANGELES (AP) The city of Walnut filed a lawsuit March 25 to stop the proposed construction of a pro football stadium to lure an NFL team back to the Los Angeles area.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court accuses the neighboring city of Industry of approving the stadium without sufficiently reviewing its environmental impact.

Neighboring cities “would realize significant traffic impact, noise, air and light pollution and other impacts that would jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of its residents,” officials in Walnut, an affluent, suburban city, said in a prepared statement.

Majestic Realty Co., the developer of the $800 million venue, initially proposed a complex of shops, offices and industrial buildings on the 600-acre site about 15 mi. east of Los Angeles.

When Majestic changed its plan in April, Walnut and other critics asked the developer for a new environmental impact report to account for the expected surge in traffic on game days, as well as increased noise and air pollution.

The developer argued that filing a new report was expensive and unnecessary and instead submitted a supplement to its original study, which the Industry City Council approved in April.

The lawsuit seeks to have the approvals reversed and to force planners to do a new environmental impact report.

Industry City Manager Kevin Radecki did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Majestic managing partner John Semcken said the legal challenge would not stop the plan.

“If they think we’re going to stop working on football because of little old Walnut, they’ve got another think coming,” he said, declining to elaborate on the company’s strategy for challenging the suit.

Semcken also would not comment on possible efforts to attract a team to play at the stadium but said the lawsuit wouldn’t necessarily keep the company from starting talks with interested owners.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the possibility that Majestic might contact teams.

Semcken has said Majestic previously agreed to wait until the stadium plan was fully approved before talking to teams.

The company has identified at least eight franchises, including the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings, as possible targets for relocation.

Nearby Diamond Bar has also threatened to sue over the stadium. Semcken said the company was likely to reach an agreement that would head off a lawsuit by Diamond Bar.

Diamond Bar City Manager Jim DeStefano did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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