Liberty sees Claremont’s eminent-domain loss as sign of things to come in Apple Valley

APPLE VALLEY — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has tentatively ruled against Claremont in that city’s eminent domain case against Golden State Water Company, a decision Liberty Utilities officials are calling a “clear and decisive” win for private water providers.

After a trial that lasted more than six weeks, Judge Richard Fruin found it was in the public’s best interest for Golden State to remain the utility provider, saying municipal ownership was not “a more necessary public use” for numerous reasons that included the city’s inability to establish that it could better provide safe and reliable water.

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The Nov. 10 decision came just two days after voters in Apple Valley passed Measure V and, as a result, earned a future vote before the town’s issuance of bond debt to pay for Liberty’s water system. Greg Sorensen, president of Liberty Utilities California, referenced that vote in a statement wherein he also called both Claremont and Apple Valley’s eminent domain lawsuits “frivolous.”

“The indisputable ruling,” Sorensen said, “combined with the overwhelming passage of the citizen-initiative Measure V, which earned 67 percent of the vote, is a clear signal that the Town of Apple Valley should carefully consider the consequences of continuing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to pay lawyers for a lawsuit that cannot be won.”

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