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Local News in Brief : South County : Court Asked to Block Biomedical Complex

An attorney for the Orange County Fund for Environmental Defense asked the state Court of Appeal on Tuesday to block construction of a 23-building biomedical facility on a site surrounded by the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park. The attorney argued that the county Board of Supervisors violated state law by failing to require a second environmental impact report (EIR) before approving the Nichols Institute project in 1986.

The appeal court justices took the matter under submission.

The environmentalists filed the appeal last year after Superior Court Judge Gary L. Taylor ruled against their lawsuit aimed at stopping the 100-acre project.

Environmentalists claim the facility, which will include a helicopter landing pad, would generate disruptive helicopter and traffic noise and does not fit in with the park’s natural environment.

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An EIR was prepared when the firm, which performs diagnostic tests for hospitals across the country, obtained a two-year conditional-use permit in 1981. But the permit expired and the supervisors issued a second permit in 1986.

The environmentalists claim that a second EIR should have been prepared because the project was altered and that the park area surrounding the facility had changed since 1981.

Judge Taylor agreed with Nichols that the changes at the facility were not substantial and that an addendum to the first EIR was sufficient.


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