S. E. Williams, Staff Writer
Even before the Moreno Valley City Council members cast their votes for or against the controversial World Logistics Center most observers were confident a lawsuit to stop the development if approved—was imminent.
Almost concurrent with the council’s split decision to approve the warehouse, the expected calls for legal action exploded across the county. Although for months, opponents of the project have highlighted environmental concerns regarding everything from impacts to wildlife corridors to air quality to traffic congestion, specifics regarding potential lawsuit(s) remain elusive.
The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice and the Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice are environmental groups who have publicly advocated against the development.
Now, in the wake of the project’s approval, these groups appear to be coalescing around a legal path forward. The groups have thirty days from August 20th to initiate any legal action. (August 20th is the date Moreno Valley filed approval of the World Logistics Center’s environmental impact reports with the Riverside County clerk.)
The San Gorgonio Chapter of the Sierra Club includes Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. According to the organization, “its interests include the intense development and congestion of the area’s urban cities and inland valleys.”
Also according to the agency, the Moreno Valley Group (MVG) is focused on the city of Moreno Valley and adjacent areas of the county. “MVG is monitoring the approval process of as many as 40,000,000 square feet of warehousing in the eastern portion of the city.”
With last week’s council approval of the World Logistics Center; and, out of an abundance of concern over the purported number of warehouses being planned, the Sierra Club has clearly expressed concern about the potential for increased traffic bringing more diesel pollution and traffic congestion to the area and resulting health impacts.
In an exclusive interview with The Voice, Mike Millspaugh, spokesperson for the Moreno Valley Group of the San Gorgonio Chapter of the Sierra Club was asked about his organization’s plans for a potential lawsuit.
“I cannot at this time comment on the details of any pending litigation,” he replied. He did confirm, “There will be a coalition of groups going against this.” He added, “I can’t give details at this time due to the confidentiality of the process.”
However, Millspaugh did offer, “Our biggest concern about this project is the radical change that will be brought about by this type of development on the eastern side of the community.”
He further explained how his organization is also particularly concerned about the disruption to the people who live in that part of the city and the impact it will have on the adjacent San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge.
During the interview, Millspaugh was asked whether there were any mitigation efforts the developer could undertake that would earn a seal of approval for the development from his environmental group to which he replied, “The only mitigating efforts we can see at this time is to not proceed with this development.”
Millspaugh also acknowledged Moreno Valley City Council members George Price and LaDonna Jempson for their votes against the World Logistics Center development project. “I thought they showed a lot of courage,” he shared and added, “They were two council members not bought by Benzeevi,” the project’s developer.