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LAGUNA BEACH : Agreement on Price of Land for Reservoir

Signaling the end of a bitter dispute here, the city and water district have agreed on a purchase price for an environmentally sensitive knoll where the district plans to build a 3-million-gallon reservoir, according to a statement released by the city Wednesday.

The “agreement in concept” calls for the Laguna Beach County Water District to pay the city $274,000 for the parcel, which is in the Top of the World neighborhood next to Alta Laguna Park.

The City Council accepted the sale price during a closed session Tuesday night. It must still be reviewed by attorneys for both sides, according to the statement. The reservoir proposal must also be approved by the Coastal Commission.

Water district officials could not be reached for comment.

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The city and water district had agreed earlier to transfer title of the reservoir site to the district, but the price had not been finalized.

Construction of the water tank has stirred controversy here for years, with district officials saying the tank is necessary and environmentalists balking at the chosen site.

The reservoir became one of the city’s most politically contentious issues after the October, 1993, firestorm that destroyed hundreds of homes. Some residents believed the battle against the blaze might have been easier if the reservoir had been built.

Mayor Kathleen Blackburn said Wednesday she was relieved the city had finally resolved the issue.

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“I’m pleased we finally reached an agreement, and I look forward to the water district being able to quickly begin their process of getting the water reservoir built,” she said.


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