Sprouts site

Construction at the site of the proposed Sprouts Farmers Market on the corner of Rancho Vista Boulevard (Avenue P) and 15th Street West has been halted by a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs, although a judge has ruled the suit was filed after the 180-day CEQA statute of limitations.

PALMDALE — Construction of a mixed-use commercial and residential development featuring a Sprouts Farmers Market and apartments and townhomes near the Antelope Valley Mall is on hold pending the outcome of an appeal of a lawsuit filed against the project in February after a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled the petitioners filed the lawsuit too late.

The project, identified in court documents as the Strata Project, is planned for a vacant 20.55 acre parcel on the northwest corner of Rancho Vista Boulevard (Avenue P) and 15th Street West, with the retail center on the corner and the majority of the residential units to the north.

The housing portion of the project will include 308 apartments, most of them  studio and one-bedroom units, as well as 36 two- to three-bedroom townhouses.

The high-end, gated complex will feature a central recreation building, pool, picnic area and other recreational amenities.

The City Council approved a zone change from commercial to residential on a portion of the project site and a corresponding General Plan amendment for the mixed-use project at an Aug. 6, 2019, meeting.

Opponents at the meeting included residents of a single-family housing development directly to the west of the project site who cited concerns regarding traffic, parking, noise and safety.

Proponents cited the need for housing to support the growing aerospace, medical and other industries in the area that are drawing new employees to the Valley, many of whom are not in the market for a house.

Attorneys for petitioners Responsible Growth Palmdale and Kristin Bennett filed suit on Feb. 5 against the City of Palmdale, the Palmdale City Council, the Palmdale Planning Commission and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and named project developer Coyne Development as the real party in interest.

“We would just like to get going. We’re just trying to wait it out,” developer Steve Coyne said.

The complaint had five causes of action. Those include that the initial study and mitigated negative declaration prepared for the project were inadequate and fell well below California Environmental Quality Act minimum standards.

The complaint also alleged the City failed to provide proper notice of the proceedings to residents in the unincorporated area that borders the project site. An attorney for the petitioners did not immediately return an email Friday.

Judge Richard L. Fruin granted a motion to dismiss the petition in part because it was filed after the 180-day CEQA statute of limitations, which expired on Jan. 7, according to the judgment filed on Sept. 10.

The judge ruled the countdown started after the Planning Commission approved the project on July 6, 2019, according to the judgment.

The petitioners argued that the statute of limitations did not expire until Feb. 3. They also argued that the petition was timely filed on Feb. 3.

“Even if the CEQA statute of limitations was extended until (Feb.) 3, 2020, the evidence before the Court establishes that the Petition was filed on (Feb.) 5, 2020,” Fruin wrote.

According to the judgment, the Feb. 3 filing was  rejected because the petitioners attempted to electronically file their petition in  a case they designated as complex. Fruin wrote that the Court’s First Amended General Order does not allow e-filing of complex civil matters, and that the clerk properly rejected the initial Feb. 3 filing.

Fruin also ruled the petitioners failed to timely request a hearing date within 90 days of filing the action.

“The action was filed on (Feb.) 5, 2020, and no hearing was requested until May 13, 2020 [98 days later]. Therefore the action is barred on this ground,” Fruin wrote.

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