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Lawsuits Challenge Live Oak Lanes Approval In Buellton

A neighbor and longtime opponent plus a San Luis Obispo-based environmental group have filed lawsuits against the city of Buellton and others, challenging the City Council’s approval of the Live Oak Lanes family entertainment center.

The lawsuit filed by Terravant Wine Company in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria names the city of Buellton and identifies Carmike-One LLC and Carmike-Two LLC, property owners of 39 and 41 Industrial Way, as real parties in interest.

A second lawsuit, filed by San Luis Obispo-based Environment in the Public Interest, also known as San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper, names the city and lists Carol Lesher-Peterson and Sid Goldstien as real parties in interest. 

Lesher Peterson and her family have been working toward getting project built for several years. Goldstien is the project’s civil engineer.

Live Oak Lanes, approved on Jan. 28 after the City Council rejected a pair of appeals, would include a 49,790-square-foot building with a bowling alley, arcade, meeting rooms, sports bar and office space, along with outside batting cages and bocce ball courts.

Both lawsuits contend the city should have required a full-blown environment impact report on the project instead of a mitigated negative declaration.

The lawsuits seek to force the city to prepare an EIR, contending it was required under the California Environmental Quality Act. 

“Petitioner and other interested parties have presented substantial evidence in support of a fair argument that the project will have significant, unmitigated impacts on the environment in multiple areas, however most notability on hydrology and storm-water quality as well as protected sensitive species and their habitat within and adjacent to the Santa Ynez corridor,” according to the lawsuit by Environment In the Public Interest.

Terravant’s lawsuit alleges the city’s “failure to adequately analyze and mitigate the project’s significant environmental effects and the failure to prepare an EIR, as required by CEQA.”

Representatives of the winery at 35 Industrial Way have fought the project for months, challenging several aspects, including an 18-foot-wide strip of land owned by Live Oak Lanes, but used by Terravant, which claims it has the rights to the area “based on various legal theories.”

Terravant also objects to storm water draining into the retention basin on its land.  

However, city staff said during public hearing on the matter in January that the storm-water retention basin belongs to the city although it’s on Terravant’s land.

The mitigated negative declaration “erroneously assumed” Live Oak Lanes had the right to drain storm water onto a parcel leased by Terravant, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also contends the project description is inadequate, one of many reasons cited for the lawsuits.

Specifically, the legal actions seek to force the city to vacate and set aside issuing permits and compel the city to prepare and circulate an EIR.

The winery is seeking “a stay, temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction” prohibiting actions by the city and Live Oak Lanes until full compliance is attained.

The court also is being asked to declare that the mitigated negative declaration violated CEQA and that the approvals are invalid. 

Additionally, both lawsuits seek attorney’s fees and costs plus any other relief the judge “deems just and proper.”

One lawsuit was filed by Terravant’s attorneys from Santa Barbara-based Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck.

Environment In The Public Interest’s lawsuit was filed by Babak Naficy, based in San Luis Obispo.

The nonprofit organization provides educational, scientific and technical support services while operating locally as San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper. 

Buellton City Manager Marc Bierdzinski declined to comment, saying the city had not yet received the actual paperwork from the court, and that the documents would need to be reviewed by the city attorney.

The first court date for the case is pending. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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