April 30, 2013
Although Granite Construction abandoned efforts to permit its proposed Liberty Quarry in Riverside County, California, two groups continue to keep the matter alive. The city of Temecula and a citizens group, Save Our Southwest Hills (SOS), have modified their lawsuit against Riverside County and are seeking legal fees and other expenses in their efforts to fight the mine.
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the city is seeking $833,448 from the county. The newspaper did not disclose the amount sought by the citizens group, but Ray Johnson, an environmental law attorney working on SOS’ behalf, told the newspaper that there is “good precedent” for ruling in its favor.
“As long as we played any part in the project going away, we should be entitled to attorney fees,” he said. “I think, pretty clearly, the opposition of SOS and the city played a large part in the fact that the project was denied.”
While NIMBY groups have long sought legal recourse against operators, putting a target on the authorizing community boards creates yet one more reason to prolong the permitting process. Worse yet, the concept of a city suing a county means that taxpayer funds are being used on BOTH sides of permitting battles, further diminishing funds available to be used toward services that should be provided by each government body.
Perhaps some enterprising taxpayer should sue the city for suing the county, claiming misuse of public funds. At this point, it’s about the only lawsuit that hasn’t been filed!