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LAGUNA NIGUEL : Laguna Beach Seeks to Block Ridge Plan

Faced with trying to preserve a scenic ridgeline that overlooks Laguna Beach but is located in neighboring Laguna Niguel, the Laguna Beach City Council has asked for a joint meeting with Laguna Niguel council members in an effort to stop a proposed 32-unit housing development.

South Laguna residents have complained that the proposed development will create environmental problems for the Laguna Beach side of the ridge, including water runoff, air pollution, harm to wildlife, and mudslides and landslides. The development, slated for a 22-acre site owned by Las Vegas casino owner Jack B. Binion, would be built southwest of Pacific Island Drive and Crown Valley Parkway, adjacent to Monarch Point. It is part of a 52-acre tract that was split when the city lines were drawn.

Binion has filed three lawsuits against Laguna Beach because the 30 acres inside that city were rezoned to effectively prevent development except for one housing unit, according to his lawyer.

An initial study by the Laguna Niguel city staff found that the project “may have a significant effect on the environment” and required that the impact of the development be studied. The city’s Environmental Review Board heard Wednesday evening from citizens opposed to the project, the first step in what is expected to be a six-month environmental review.

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