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Hart District OKs Settlement Over Castaic High Lawsuit

After about 16 months and a couple hundred thousand dollars in legal fees, Castaic High School will have two access roads, eventually, according to a Hart district agreement with the Citizens For Castaic.

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The district and developer are paying $100,000 each toward CFC’s legal costs, and working with Los Angeles County officials to resolve concerns over oak trees, access and trails that were raised by the residents’ group, officials said.

The citizen group filed suit with the William S. Hart Union High School District in Nov. 5, 2012, over the site for Castaic High School.A picture taken at the Castaic High groundbreaking

A settlement resolving the suit, which was preceded by a glowing letter from CFC’s president, was ratified by the Hart district governing board Wednesday.

“From the district’s standpoint, we’re very pleased that all of the parties were able to reach an agreement on the concerns raised by the Citizens For Castaic,” said Hart district board President Steve Sturgeon. “Citizens For Castaic was focusing on environmental issues that are important to the community overall, including trails trees, access issues and lighting.”

A major concern for the settlement was a timeframe for when a secondary access road would be built, Sturgeon said.

“The district anticipates to have a southerly access road by 2018 at the latest,” according to the agreement.

While the CFC put together a small protest with a handful of area residents at the district’s groundbreaking for the site in May, negotiations hit a turning point in November, officials said.

“The suit was brought against three parties, the district, the county and Romero Canyon LLC (the developer) -- in December, the district let the county know, there was no interest on the part of the district to enter into litigation with the county,” Sturgeon said.

“The county was supportive of the CFC’s environmental issues,” Sturgeon said.

At that point, negotiations moved in a positive direction toward settlement, he added.

“Rather than everyone wanting to control the situation,” he said, “it became a team effort.”

The agreement also notes that as part of the agreement to build a southerly access road, the district might need to purchase private property, but if that property is not available, efforts will be made to look at alternative routes.

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Hart District OKs Settlement Over Castaic High Lawsuit

Article: Hart District OKs Settlement Over Castaic High Lawsuit
Source: Santa Clarita News
Author: Perry Smith