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New Suit In San Jose Theater Dispute

SAN JOSE, CA (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Mediation talks aimed at resolving San Jose’s lawsuit over Santa Clara County’s proposed fairgrounds concert hall project ended with county officials promising more litigation in the ongoing land-use feud with the city.

County officials said promised to file a countersuit today accusing the city of violating the same 2001 land-use agreement that is at the heart of the music hall dispute.

“We want to be made whole for the damages to the fairgrounds theater, and we want the city to perform what it agreed to do in 2001,” County Executive Pete Kutras told the Mercury News.

City Attorney Rick Doyle told the paper that although he had not seen the lawsuit yet, “I don’t believe the county’s claims have much merit.”

Whether the two sides will settle out of court or move to trial is unclear at this point, but both said that last Tuesday, April 26th, discussions were productive and they expect to continue talking.

House of Blues is fighting for permission to build the 7,000-seat concert hall at the county fairgrounds site located within the San Jose city limits. City officials have shown interest at having a venue build downtown, possibly in a deal with the San Jose Sharks, rather than on the fairgrounds. Neither party, however, has brought forward a viable financing plan.

County officials said that while the discussions may lead to a better understanding between the city and county on land-use issues that come up in the future, they were pessimistic about chances for settling the venue dispute.

“Whether we can resolve the pending issues, given the immediacy of all this, I don’t know,” County Counsel Ann Ravel told the paper.

County officials have been trying to develop a concert hall at the fairgrounds since 1999, and gave their final approval last May for the project to proceed. San Jose and downtown merchants filed separate lawsuits in August to stop the project.

While the merchants’ suit was thrown out, a judge in San Mateo County agreed to let the city take its case to trial, effectively stopping the project.

San Jose’s suit contends that the land-use agreement required the county to seek city approval for the music hall.

The county’s countersuit argues the city violated the agreement by suing over the project rather than settling out of court, noting that the city had plenty of opportunity to raise objections during county approval processes. The suit alleges the city “acted to purposefully undermine the fairgrounds theater project and to support a downtown concert theater” location favored by downtown merchants, which has failed to gain traction. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers