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State Senate's vote backs Southern California stadium developers

LOS ANGELES -- The California Senate has voted to allow developers of a proposed 75,000-seat football stadium in the Southern California city of Industry an environmental exemption that allows construction to move forward.

If signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bill that was approved Wednesday on a 21-14 vote, would nullify a lawsuit by residents in the neighboring city of Walnut, who claimed that Industry approved the project without sufficiently reviewing its environmental impact.

Officials with developer Majestic Realty Co. have said that they would begin approaching NFL teams about moving to the area when the current season ends.

Lawmakers voted after Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg failed to broker an agreement between Industry and developer Majestic Realty Co. and the residents' group.

Industry and the developer rejected the group's demands that a roof be added to the open-air stadium to cut down on noise and light pollution and that ramps be built leading directly from the freeway to the stadium grounds, amid other concessions.

The bill approved by the Senate cleared the Assembly last month amid lobbying by stadium developer and labor union officials who argued that the venue's construction and operation would bring jobs to the region suffering from high unemployment.

The city of Walnut settled a separate lawsuit that it had filed over the stadium proposal. The deal granted Walnut $9 million, an annual cash payment of up to $500,000 and other concessions.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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