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Hart district, citizen group reach deal

Litigation had alleged environmental violations by district regarding Castaic High School project

Posted: February 6, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 6, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Members of the William S. Hart Union High School District board announced Wednesday night that they have reached a settlement to resolve litigation regarding environmental documents for the long-awaited Castaic High School project.

That legal challenge came from the Citizens for Castaic group, which alleged the Hart district violated the California Environmental Quality Act when its board approved the Castaic High School Environmental Impact Report.

“With the provisions included in this settlement, Citizens for Castaic fully supports the school project, its location and access routes,” said Richard Landy, the group’s president. “The district, Romero Canyon LLC, county and Citizens for Castaic are committed to continuing to work together to ensure the best school for our community, and a school everyone can be proud of.”

As part of the agreement — the terms of which were agreed to by the district, Citizens for Castaic, Los Angeles County and Romero Canyon LLC — Romero Canyon and the district will each pay a portion of the attorney fees of Citizens for Castaic in the amount of $100,000 each.

Other provisions of the settlement agreement include that oak trees at the school site be replaced at a 2:1 ratio and that lighting at the school be installed in a way to minimize light spill onto surrounding and adjacent properties.

One concern that has been raised by Citizens for Castaic was dual access for the school site, which the group has said should be required before the school is allowed to open.

As part of the settlement, access to the school will come from a northerly access route that will service the high school from Interstate 5 up Sloan Canyon Road to Mandolin Canyon Road and a southerly access route will be constructed to service the high school from Valley Creek Road, Barringer Road, Sloan Canyon Road to Hillcrest Parkway.

The target goal for opening that southerly road is 2018.

The parties in the settlement will also work together to secure funds for the construction of the southerly access road, as well as development of a future multipurpose trail system in the area.

“The parties have worked diligently together to resolve some very complicated issues,” said Hart district Superintendent Robert Challinor, in a statement. “Now that we have reached agreement and the parties are working together collaboratively, we are confident that the project will move forward and that the school will be built as soon as possible.”
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