Preservation group files legal challenge

OCEANSIDE — The Preserve Calavera open space preservation group filed a legal challenge to the proposed Melrose Drive extension project stating there are 71 flaws in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that need to be looked into before the road is built.
“There are so many areas where it was flawed we picked and chose what to put in the petition,” Diane Nygaard, of Preserve Calavera, said. “We’ve been raising our concerns for years.”
City attorney John Mullen described the challenges to the EIR as “light on facts.” “It’s typical they’re throwing in the whole kitchen sink,” Mullen said. “Their challenges to the EIR are light on facts and lots of conclusions. They’ve alleged everything they could possible allege.”
The EIR in question was approved by City Council on May 25. Challenges to the EIR include the claims that the proposed project will have a negative impact on park area and recreational resources.
“There is a 20-page document with a laundry list of what they think isn’t prepared correctly,” Abraham Chen, assistant engineer, said.
Arguments against the proposed road extension include the charges that the planned road is oversized, damaging to the regional park and alternatives were not investigated.
The proposed road extension will build a six-lane divided highway with up to 12-foot high sound walls through Guajome Regional Park and a major wildlife movement corridor. 
“Our objective is to reduce the damage this is going to cause to the sights and sounds of the area,” Nygaard said.
Traffic studies recommend a four-lane road through the rural agriculture area. Nygaard said the wider road is just a first step towards future development.
“Taxpayers are supporting future development,” Nygaard said. “A chain of dominos is causing major damage impacting park land, open space and wildlife corridors. The project is extremely damaging. Traffic studies said it will provide very little benefit.”
The legal challenge needs to be addressed before the road project can be approved. The proposed road will span less than a mile, cost an estimated $20 million and require the acquisition of 14 private properties.

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