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Countywide : Supervisors Agree to Buy Property for $7 million

The Board of Supervisors agreed Wednesday to pay $7 million for the Laguna Hills property the county once could have bought for $3 million.

The settlement with the Presley Co. of Southern California, developer of the large equestrian lots on the exclusive Nellie Gail Ranch, ends a five-year battle between the county and Presley.

The county needs the 47 acres for the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor, the freeway that will run from Corona del Mar to the I-5 Freeway near the northern edge of San Juan Capistrano. Presley had offered to sell much of the land to the county for up to $3 million. But the county contended in 1982 that Presley’s tract map for its planned 283-acre, 292-home development--including the corridor land--was invalid.

The maneuver could have resulted in Presley’s being forced to give the land to the county. But the development firm sued and won, giving it much greater leverage in its negotiations with the county over the property sale price.

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