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Placerita Canyon : Judge Denies Bid to Block Tenneco Plant

Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that a homeowner association failed to prove that a power plant proposed by Tenneco Oil Co. in Santa Clarita’s Placerita Canyon would have an adverse effect on the environment.

Judge Miriam A. Vogel also denied an order sought by the Placerita Canyon Homeowners’ Assn. requiring the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to hold new hearings on the $35-million project.

Attorneys for the homeowner group and the City of Santa Clarita, which joined the suit, argued that the county should have required the company to prepare an environmental impact report before it granted Tenneco a permit for the power plant.

Attorney Deborah J. Fox, appearing on behalf of Santa Clarita, maintained that the county failed to consider cumulative impacts of the project on air quality.

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But Vogel said she saw no evidence to support the contentions by the homeowner group and the city.

The City Council has issued a moratorium prohibiting construction on the property on which Tenneco plans to build, throwing into question whether the power plant will be built.

Moreover, Michael McEntee, attorney for the homeowners, said he will recommend that his clients appeal the judge’s decision. Fox said she will confer with City Council members to see if they will join an appeal.

Tenneco attorney Greg Brown said that Tuesday’s ruling “supports what we’ve been saying all along. This project will not have any adverse impact on the environment. We certainly felt all along that we’d addressed all the concerns.”

Yearlong Process

He added that it took the company a year and four hearings before the county granted the permit to break ground on the project near the intersection of Placerita Canyon Road and Sierra Highway. The power plant is designed to produce steam and electricity for oil-field use and for sale to the Southern California Edison Co.

Placerita Canyon property owners began fighting the gas-burning plant in August when the project was before the county Regional Planning Commission. They maintained that the plant would spew nitrogen oxides and other harmful elements into the already polluted residential area.

The homeowner association attempted to block the project by filing suit in December. On Dec. 8--moments after Superior Court Judge Warren H. Deering turned down the association’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the company from breaking ground for the power plant--Tenneco officials obtained a grading permit for the project from the Board of Supervisors.

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Santa Clarita City Atty. Carl Newton unsuccessfully urged supervisors to withhold Tenneco’s permit so that the city, which incorporated Dec. 15, could decide the project’s fate.

The council last week extended for 10 months a moratorium on building in areas zoned for agricultural use, which includes the Tenneco property.

Newton maintained the moratorium will prohibit Tenneco from beginning actual construction of the plant. But Brown contended it will not affect the project because initial county permits already had been granted.


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