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Setback for Environmentalists Trying to Stop Development

SANTA BARBARA – Environmental groups who are trying to stop the Gaviota Coast from being developed suffered a legal setback Tuesday.Several organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors 2008 decision to allow the Santa Barbara Ranch project to move forward.It is a 71 unit luxury residential subdivision on the rural Gaviota Coast.The Environmental Defense Center, The Surfrider Foundation and the Naples Coalition have been fighting to keep development away from the Gaviota area for years.Environmentalists believe last minute changes to grade more soil than first thought would have negative environmental impacts and alter the rural area forever. The groups challenged the Board of Supervisors decision to allow the project to move forward.However, Judge Thomas Anderle ruled changes to the plans were not significant enough to stop the project. Linda Krop from the Environmental Defense Center tells KEY News they may appeal the court’s decision and will ask the Coastal Commission to stop plans for development on the Gaviota Coast.The Coastal Commission has yet to decide whether to approve the coastal portion of the project. Krop says the inland portion can’t go forward without the Coastal Commission’s approval of the coastal section of the project.The original owner of the property lost it in foreclosure. Now, a bank owns the property. But, it’s looking for someone to buy and develop the land.The environmental groups behind the suit are hopeful they can find a conservationist to purchase the land.

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