Ruling Backs Builder in Dispute Over Road

A Ventura County Superior Court judge has issued a preliminary ruling saying the city violated the rights of two Dos Vientos developers when it stopped construction of a road that will feed a 2,350-unit, $700-million housing project.

The court will hear arguments on both sides of the case today, before issuing a final ruling.

If the preliminary ruling issued Friday is finalized, the city would have to restore the developers' building permits, first issued after the city agreed in 1996 to a 12% grade for an extension of Borchard Road, 7% more than city codes allow.

The court's tentative ruling, issued Friday, holds that the city cannot stand in the way of developers, who plan to build the road despite the safety objections of Newbury Park residents and a developer-funded traffic study that deemed the road dangerously steep.

"The city has no discretionary right to suspend or stop that grading" for the road extension, the court said in its tentative ruling. "Furthermore, there is no admissible evidence, nor persuasive evidence for that matter, that the subject grading seriously and adversely affects health and safety."

Although the court will hear arguments today, most preliminary rulings are reaffirmed by the judge on the date of the hearing.

Attorney Ed Masry of Masry & Vititoe, which represents two homeowners and citizens groups in the lawsuit, said that if the court follows through on its ruling, he will attack the underlying contract with the city that gives the developers the right to build homes.

If it could be proved that developers intentionally misled officials, the city could conceivably void the contract and still keep the money it received, he said.

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