Thursday Jul 17 2008
Clover Valley project delayed by lawsuit
By: Michael Althouse, The Placer Herald
Hearing set for September
Despite losing by fewer than 500 votes in a referendum to keep developers out of Clover Valley, those fighting to preserve it have not given up. Although Rocklin voters approved Measure H last February by 2.6 percent, two lawsuits have delayed development at least until a judge can make a ruling. Measure H was a general plan amendment that allows for the construction of 558 homes in Clover Valley, an historic and undeveloped parcel of land located in the Northeast corner of Rocklin bordering Loomis. The Clover Valley Foundation and the Sierra Club filed one suit while the town of Loomis filed another. Both briefs cited issues with Rocklin’s environmental impact report (EIR) and have since been combined into a single action by the court last December. Among other concerns, the Loomis suit highlighted issues with traffic on Sierra College Boulevard and whether there would be an adequate water supply from the Placer County Water Agency, said Loomis Town Manager Perry Beck. “We believe that the EIR erroneously reports that the development is consistent with the general plan,” Beck said, adding the report also fails to reduce impacts to views along Sierra College Boulevard. Attorney Bill Yeates with Kenyon/Yeates, LLC, a Sacramento Law firm specializing in environmental law, said the next move is up to the city of Rocklin. “We filed our opening brief and their reply brief is due soon,” Yeates said. “Then we’ll file a response. We have a hearing on Sept. 12.” Rocklin City Manager Carlos Urrutia said that until there is some sort of resolution, the development cannot go forward. “We anticipated that there would be a challenge from the Clover Valley group,” he said, adding that he believed the Loomis action was due primarily to the town’s concerns about traffic on Sierra College Boulevard. Elaine O’Deegan, chairperson for the No on H campaign, believes the close vote was swayed by a promise from the city that 154 lots on the valley floor would be purchased and preserved by the United Auburn Indian Tribe. “Our City Council campaigned that the valley floor would be saved (if Measure H passed), O’Deegan said. “Nothing ever came of that.” “We lost by less than 500 votes, 47 percent of the people voted to stop this project,” she said. “The people of Rocklin have a right to know what happened to the deal.” According to Rocklin Mayor Brett Storey, the city has been working diligently with the developer and the tribe. “The ironic part is that if there wasn’t a law suit, it would have already been done,” storey said, adding that the property is the subject of litigation cannot be sold. Although Storey said he could not disclose the any agreements at this time, he did say an announcement regarding the valley floor would be released in the coming weeks. Chairperson for the Placer Group of the Motherlode Chapter of the Sierra Club, Marilyn Jasper, said the importance of Clover Valley goes beyond its scenic beauty. “It is a perfect prehistoric nature preserve,” she said, adding that a coalition of environmental groups have offered to buy the property in the past. “They offered it to the coalition for $20 million and we said ‘ok,’” Jasper said. “Days later the price went up to $26 million and we said ‘ok,’ but we need it in writing,” she said. “But we could never get anything in writing to give to our coalition of buyers.” Jasper was disappointed by the vote on Measure H, but she was not discouraged, saying the fight has been going on for more than ten years. “This is not a done deal, this is far from over,” she said, adding that she expects there to be an appeal no matter which way a judge rules.