San Gabriel Valley : EIGHT YEARS, NO HOUSES

Creating another hurdle for the long-delayed 272-house La Vina development in the foothills of Altadena, an environmental group has again turned to an appellate court to stop the project.

The Friends of La Vina this week challenged a January decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert O'Brien to dismiss their lawsuit against the project. O'Brien ruled that approval of the club was a political rather than a legal issue.

The suit, against the county and developers Coscan Davidson Homes, contends that an environmental impact report on the project was inadequate.

Kate Neiswender, an attorney for the environmental group, said the La Vina project calls for too many homes, that the county failed to closely scrutinize the environmental report and that no alternatives for the land were examined as required by state law.

The developers have dismissed such allegations, saying they won the Superior Court case on its merits and they should be allowed to move forward with the project. The development, which was approved by the county supervisors in 1992, is proposed for the site of a former sanitarium at the end of Lincoln Avenue.

In 1993, Judge O'Brien dismissed the case after the Friends group could not pay $55,000 in legal fees to the developers and the county.

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