by Publisher CoachellaValley | January 7, 2021 6:04 pm
The City Council’s 4-0 approval came Thursday afternoon after about 90 minutes of comments from people both for and against the project.
Mayor Dana Hobart recused himself, as he has with past votes on the project.
City attorney Steve Quintanilla has explained that Hobart credits a doctor associated with the project for saving his life, and Hobart could vote but believes it is best if he recuses himself.
Opponents, many of whom are residents who live off Magnesia Falls Drive across from Rancho Las Palmas shopping center, made one more plea to council members to deny the project.
“I fully understand that anything I say – or others opposed to the proposed location for In-N-Out – will not change your vote today,” said Jim Elliott, who formed the citizen group Save Rancho Mirage after the 2019 approval of In-N-Out.
The In-N-Out project was approved back in October of 2019, but shortly after a group of neighbors known as “Save Rancho Mirage” filed a lawsuit saying the project violated the California Environmental Quality Act.
The group worries having a busy fast-food restaurant will bring down property value and contribute to heavy congestion and air pollution in their neighborhood questioning the current data that has been collected.
The City of Rancho Mirage responded in September in part with …
“The project never went away. the first lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, which means the city’s first (CEQA) determination remains valid… in the context of litigation, sometimes misinformation may be disseminated in the community as a strategy to confuse the matter… the project is moving forward with a proposed draft environmental impact report (EIR)…”
According to the city, In-N-Out voluntarily chose to have an environmental impact report, a decision that kept them from having to battle the issues in court.
“Yes, the case was dismissed with prejudice on the (CEQA) issue, but that doesn’t mean we can’t challenge the veracity of the data,” added Elliot.
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