The Orange County Fourth District Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned the controversial Madrona housing project in Brea, east of Olinda Village that proposed 162 homes on 367 hillside acres.

Many Chino Hills residents engaged in a campaign against the development and participated in fundraisers because of concerns about potential impacts to Carbon Canyon Road.

The project had only one way in and out—Carbon Canyon Road.

An emergency access with a break-away gate would have been located at the top of Olinda Drive.

“We feel vindicated,” said Claire Schlotterbeck, executive director of Hills for Everyone who took the lead on the lawsuit against the City of Brea. “We are thankful the panel understood the complexities of the case.”

The appellate court stated that Brea violated its own general plan, specifically its woodland protection policy. 

The court also found that the environmental impact report did not consider the grading standards in the Carbon Canyon Specific Plan.

The Brea city council approved the project 4-1 in June 2014. 

Hills for Everyone, joined by other environmental groups, sued the city and the approval was overturned by Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Moss in November 2015.

Ms. Schlotterbeck said the Brea city council voted not to join the appeal, leaving the developer to fight the court’s ruling on its own.

The developer may opt to ask the court to reconsider the decision or appeal it to the Supreme Court, she said.

The landowner is Old Standard Life Insurance Company because the developer, Shopoff Group, went bankrupt. 

When the insurance company also went bankrupt, the State of Idaho was appointed trustee to manage the project. 

Ms. Schlotterbeck said if the project was developed, the State of Idaho would have sold the land to the insurance company’s shareholders after receiving entitlements.

The land where Madrona was proposed was burned over four times in the last 30 years, Ms. Schlotterbeck said, including the 2008 Freeway Complex fire.

In addition to putting people in danger, the project would have impacted Chino Hills State Park and destroyed important habitat lands in a documented wildlife corridor, she said. The project called for the removal of 1,400 oak and walnut trees.

Hills for Everyone is the group that founded the Chino Hills State Park.

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