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San Diego Union-Tribune

Injunction Allows Blackwater To Continue Otay Training Operation

by
Tanya Mannes

SAN DIEGO - A federal judge has granted an injunction to Blackwater Worldwide, allowing the company to continue operating its military training center in Otay Mesa.0618 03

The company's permits for the Navy training facility near Brown Field have been in dispute.

In a ruling Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff rejected City Attorney Michael Aguirre's legal arguments for more public review, saying the facility is entitled to continue operating with its existing permits.

Huff said the project is of a small scale, and she rejected Aguirre's arguments that it would pose a substantial burden on city services, such as police. "We're talking about 24 sailors at a time, training them in an indoor facility," she said.

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Brian Bonfiglio, a Blackwater vice president, praised the ruling, saying it was a "win for the Constitution and the rule of law."

Aguirre said he will appeal, saying the ruling raises "fundamental issues of discretion and the right of the City Council to make land-use decisions."

Blackwater sued the city in federal court May 23 after Mayor Jerry Sanders, citing Aguirre's legal analysis, tried to require public hearings before allowing the project to go forward.

Huff granted the company's request for a temporary restraining order against San Diego, allowing the facility to open June 5. She upheld that decision in Tuesday's ruling.

© 2008 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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