Lawsuit not expected to delay groundbreaking for four buildings
Westmont hopes to break ground on four buildings in May 2008, contingent on funding and final trustee approval. The updated master plan allows a limited time to construct up to four facilities in Phase One: Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics, Adams Center for the Visual Arts, a residence hall and a chapel. Initial work includes grading and rerouting the campus road.
A small group of opponents filed a lawsuit against the county challenging the unanimous approval of Westmont’s updated master plan by the Montecito Planning Commission and the County Board of Supervisors. Transcripts of all the hearings and Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), a massive amount of paper expected to occupy 12 boxes, will be entered into the court record by July. A Superior Court judge will hear the suit Nov. 13, 2007, and should render a decision well before Westmont breaks ground. The lawsuit alleges the county made mistakes in reviewing the Westmont plan and the EIR.
“We believe the lawsuit is without merit,” says Cliff Lundberg, executive vice president. “The allegations that Westmont failed to comply with its conditional use permit are completely unfounded. It’s disappointing that we must spend time and money responding to a suit that repeats much of the same erroneous information these opponents have presented before and which the county has rejected. We hoped they would respect the unanimous votes by decision makers, as well as the many years we have spent developing the plan and consulting with neighbors.” College officials will resist any delaying tactics the opponents employ to make sure the suit is heard as soon as possible.