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TUSTIN : Lawsuit Threatened Over Development

The City Council this week authorized filing suit against the city of Irvine unless it agrees to solve traffic problems that might be created by the proposed Northwood residential development.

Tustin and Irvine officials have been disagreeing for weeks on what kinds of traffic studies and possible street improvements will be needed once the Irvine Co.'s proposed 2,885-home project is built.

The Irvine City Council will consider approving the 416-acre development Tuesday.

The Tustin council voted unanimously in a private session Monday night to authorize a lawsuit if Irvine approves the project without addressing Tustin’s traffic concerns.

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Threatening a lawsuit is a way to show Irvine officials that “we mean business,” Tustin City Atty. James G. Rourke said Tuesday.

Tustin officials have been strongly objecting since June to Irvine approving the project unless potential traffic problems in Tustin are addressed. Tustin has asked Irvine to study how the Northwood 5 project would affect Tustin’s streets and intersections. But Irvine has maintained that those studies are not required under state planning law.

Still, Irvine has been talking regularly with Tustin officials, trying to settle their concerns, City Manager Paul O. Brady Jr. said Tuesday.

A solution acceptable to both cities is likely before Tuesday’s council meeting, Brady said.

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Rourke agreed that a solution might be possible without a lawsuit. Tustin wants Irvine to require the Irvine Co. to study some of Tustin’s intersections and agree to pay for any needed street improvements if traffic from Northwood 5 seriously affects them, he said.

The proposed Northwood 5 project is about 1 mile from Tustin’s eastern boundary, east of the Tustin Ranch Golf Course. The land, now an orange grove, is not in the limits of either city. But Irvine has planning authority over the area since it borders the city’s northern edge.


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