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A dispute over a proposed development site in Los Angeles County has ended in a $25.25 million settlement. The city of Glendale, Calif., the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority will pay Gregg Development Inc. that sum to preserve 238 acres of hillside. The deal resolves three suits. The first sought a court order commanding the city to complete a final environmental impact report (EIR) for the project and sought money damages for the delay. The second suit sought recovery of excessive EIR fees. The third suit sought a court order commanding the city to compensate Gregg for what ended up as a regulatory taking and damages for constitutional violations. In 1992, Gregg proposed building a residential development. The project’s density was permitted by the zoning at the time. Shortly after the application was filed, Glendale enacted an ordinance limiting development of the hillside. Gregg sued to challenge the ordinance. In 1996, the city agreed not to apply the ordinance and to try to complete an EIR by June 1997. The city billed Gregg $300,000 for the cost of the EIR, and then demanded another $900,000 to redo it. Gregg sued, alleging that the city failed to complete an EIR within one year of submission as required, and that its failure to do so damaged the developer, according to Gregg’s lead counsel, Robert I. McMurry of Los Angeles. Gregg also alleged that the EIR fees were excessive. The court denied a city motion to dismiss and ordered it to complete and certify the EIR, which it did on March 6, unanimously denying the project application. Gregg then sued for inverse condemnation and violations of due process and equal protection rights. Again, the court denied the city’s demurrer. A mediated settlement was reached on Dec. 17. In exchange for an end to the cases and public acquisition of the property, the conservancy and the authority will pay $12 million; the city, $13.25 million. Defense lawyer Sarah M. Hart of Los Angeles’ Fox & Sohagi said the firm declined to comment on the cases.

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