In late June a judge in two cases ruled against the proposed 3,600-house Harmony Development saying the city improperly defined the project and failed to properly analyze or mitigate downstream flooding impacts, and more.

By Jennifer Iyer | | Redlands Daily Facts
Published: July 6, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Updated: July 6, 2018 at 6:35 pm

A judge has ruled against Highland’s proposed 3,600-house Harmony development, partially siding with environmental and community groups that opposed the massive project in two related lawsuits.

The suits, filed in September 2016, challenged the city’s approval of the project due to what they called an “inadequate” environmental report.

Superior Court Judge Donald Alvarez found the report failed to analyze the entire scope of the project in leaving out a needed bridge over Mill Creek. Impacts on flooding, and to water and wildlife habitat were also not fully considered, he said.

Petitioners in both suits sought to throw out the city’s certification of the report and approvals of the project. City officials and the developer now are determining what they’ll do next.

Larry Mainez, the city’s community development director, said Thursday the city had just received word about the ruling and was still figuring out how to proceed. The rulings, filed in late June, had been mailed to the parties, and were received Thursday.

“We received the ruling, and our team is reviewing it,” said Randall Lewis, executive vice president of developer Lewis Group of Companies. “We will be deciding what the next steps are.”

This map from the Harmony Specific Plan environmental impact report shows the Highland housing project, outlined in red, in relation to nearby cities and roads.

In fall 2016, the Highland City Council consented to putting the Harmony master planned community before voters in November 2018, reversing course on its approval of the project after opponents gathered enough signatures to force a recall or seek voter input. The council had approved the project in August 2016.

At that point Mayor Larry McCallon had said placing the matter on the ballot likely would not impact the construction timeline.

“It was never envisioned construction would start for the next three, four or five years, anyway,” he had said.

McCallon did not return multiple phone calls by late afternoon Friday.

“The next step will be determining what the remedy the Judge will issue since the Petition was granted in part and denied in part,” said Aruna Prabhala, an attorney with petitioner Center for Biological Diversity in an email. “…The Judge found the environmental impact report was inadequate on a number of issues which will likely have to be addressed before the project moves forward.”

When the remedy will be issued is uncertain as it hinges on the completion of several procedural steps, she said.

A similar ruling was recently handed down for what would be one of the nation’s largest warehouse facilities proposed for eastern Moreno Valley. On June 14 Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sharon J. Waters tossed out the World Logistics Center project’s environmental report, setting aside that city’s approvals, and barring it from issuing any permits.

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