As Irvine officials weigh the city’s options to close and relocate the asphalt batch plant off Jeffrey Road that has been the source of numerous complaints from nearby residents, they said they want guidance from outside legal counsel before deciding the best course of action.

In reviewing potential strategies for addressing the plant, including a proposed settlement agreement that aimed to relocate it, Councilwoman Tammy Kim at a meeting Tuesday said she wanted “another set of eyes” on the city’s options. As an alternative – or possibly simultaneous – to the settlement, city leaders have explored initiating a condemnation process to eventually shut down the plant and take it over through eminent domain.

They’ve also considered continuing litigation against All American Asphalt, the operator of the plant. The city in 2020 filed a public nuisance lawsuit.

City staffers had been interviewing independent special counsel to hire and review the city’s legal strategy, and said Tuesday they could select a law firm and get it up to speed in the next 30-to-45 days on the possibilities Irvine leaders are considering.

At the same time, City Council members said they wanted clarity on some terms in the proposed settlement. Mayor Farrah Khan suggested including specific dates on the timeline for All American Asphalt to explore relocation, more precise mitigation measures the company would take in the meantime and language that would make it clear “we’re not waiving our rights to pursue further action if we need to at a future date.”

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Under the current proposed agreement, which aims to resolve the 2020 lawsuit, All American Asphalt would be required to identify a new site where it could relocate, and prepare a timeline for when it could do so. But the settlement wouldn’t force it to shut down or move.

If a new location is agreed on by the company and the city, Irvine could end up paying between $50 million and $100 million to purchase the new site and reconstruct All American Asphalt’s plant there, and the process could take up to three years, City Manager Oliver Chi said.

The condemnation option would be a “more definitive and quicker process than coordinating the settlement,” Chi said, and could be completed within nine months. But it would come at a hefty price tag, he said, costing the city well over $100 million, and closer to $500 million.

The City Council plans to revisit its options with input from outside legal counsel at a meeting in December.

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