Tejon Mountain Village Wins Supervisor Approval
TurnTo23.com | October 6, 2009
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- After a special session that ran almost eight hours, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Tejon Mountain Village project Monday afternoon.
The project contains 3,450 housing units, 160,000 square feet of commercial space, two championship golf courses and a 750-room hotel on thousands of acres of land east of Interstate 5 near Lebec.
"I do think that we are talking about the best, most responsible development that's ever occurred in Kern County," said Supervisor Ray Watson.
Supporters highlighted a desire for increased tourism in Kern County, as well as job creation and tax benefits.
"It means discovery by visitors of more attractions or longer stays at their favorites," said Dave Hook of the Kern County Board of Trade. "And it means more opportunities for local businesses to sell everything from souvenirs to gasoline to chewing gum."
But not everyone was convinced. Several opponents were concerned about Native American sites within the project's boundaries
"Once you tear it up you cannot put it back together," said Sue Dominguez, who is of Native American descent. "Some places should not be developed, and this is one of those places."
In all, opponents gave more than three hours of public testimony, saying the project's organizers did not do enough to mitigate issues like water and critical habitat for the California condor.
"This is one of the most endangered species on the planet, and what a jewel it is that we have it right here," said Adam Keats of the Center for Biological Diversity. "And here we are, going to curse this thing, to getting food handouts for the rest of its existence."
Several major environmental groups agreed not to oppose the project due to an agreement reached with Tejon Ranch last year. In exchange, Tejon agreed to conserve much of the ranch's property before putting forth this project, as well as one in Los Angeles County that will be reviewed next year.
"It's allowing a reasonable economic engine of the remaining part of our land to develop communities where people can live, work and recreate," said Bob Stine, the CEO of Tejon Ranch. "That's what this plan today is all about."
The approval from the Board of Supervisors clears the way for construction, but the Center for Biological Diversity says it will file a lawsuit.
The center has 30 days to file suit in Superior Court, and it will be filed later this week, Keats said.