Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/11/2013 07:15:11 PM PST

A grass-roots citizens group has sued San Bernardino County and a Spanish broadcasting company over a 43-foot-tall radio antenna the Board of Supervisors approved for a ridegline overlooking Wildwood State Park in Yucaipa.

In a write of mandate filed Dec. 21 in San Bernardino Superior Court, Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Living CPRL), which encompasses the city of Yucaipa, the Oak Glen Wildlands Conservancy and more than 17,000 Yucaipa and local residents, alleges the county failed to comply with state environmental laws when the Board of Supervisors approved the antenna on Nov. 27.

For five years, the group has been battling Oxnard-based Lazer Broadcasting over the antenna, which opponents say obstructs the pristine landscape and views at the park. The group alleges in its lawsuit that the project warrants an environmental impact report, not a mitigated negative declaration.

The difference between an environmental impact report (EIR) and a mitigated negative declaration (MND) is that an EIR is required if a project is determined to have a significant impact on the environment, whereas an MND, which was used in the radio tower project, is used if it is believed a project’s environmental impacts can be reduced to an insignificant level.

“CPRL has always taken the position that a full environmental impact report should have been prepared prior to consideration of the Lazer application to construct the tower,” said John Mirau, a Redlands attorney and spokesman for the group. “The county of San Bernardino ignored our request for an EIR, so we now will have the court determine if the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving the tower without preparing an EIR.”

Lazer Broadcasting owns the 38 acres of land near the intersection of Oak Glen and Wildwood Canyon roads, west of Pisgah Peak Road, where it plans to erect its antenna. The company initially proposed a 140-foot tall lattice tower with a 250-square-foot equipment building and 500-gallon propane tank to run a backup generator, which the Board of Supervisors rejected.

Lazer scaled the project down to its current configuration – an antenna affixed to a 43-foot-tall wooden monopole – which was palatable to the county but not to project opponents, who still argue the project will be an eyesore and negatively impact the area’s natural landscape.

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