Liset Marquez, Staff Writer
Created: 12/10/2011 10:02:09 PM PST

ONTARIO – For the past few years the city has extended building permits and development plans set to expire in an effort to assist developers, landowners and businesses during the recession.

The move has become standard in other cities trying to stave off the effects of the economic downturn.

Now, Cory Briggs, the attorney for Ontario Mountain Village Association – a group of residents who have opposed the future Walmart in the north part of town – has filed a lawsuit citing the city’s lack of transparency on such extensions.

Briggs said he had requested the documents of every permit and plan that would have been extended under the ordinance.

“The city failed to provide complete disclosure of the records,” he said.

Briggs said he felt the city violated the right to due process by withholding information that should have been provided. He questioned the legality of the move and whether one business would benefit more from the move than another.

This is not the first time Briggs and OMVA residents have sued the city. Walmart and city officials were entangled in a legal battle with the OMVA since the City Council approved a supercenter in 2007. A decision last year cleared the city and Walmart from the lawsuit.

Despite the suit, the council earlier this week agreed to a one-year extension for all permits that are set to expire between now and March 2013.

The council was set to approve the extensions Nov. 15 at its meeting. When Briggs submitted a letter that day questioning the move, the council decided to have City Attorney John Brown review it before making a decision.

He said to his knowledge no other city has been sued before for extending permits.

“There’s no question in my mind that the city can proceed,” Brown advised the council. “You are clearly within your legal right to consider this ordinance.”

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