Thursday Apr 15 2010
Loomis lawsuits bring two communities together
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
The town of Loomis has hit Rocklin with a series of lawsuits. While Loomis leaders say they are taking on a bully, Rocklin’s mayor says he sees a new spirit of cooperation. Loomis’ mayor, however, said his community will defend itself. “We’re fighting for our way of life,” said Loomis Mayor Gary Liss. “The town of Loomis is not going to just sit by and let other communities impact our residents and businesses. People have gotten the message; our litigation has made that point.” This week, the Loomis Town Council is expected to consider whether to move ahead with an appeal in the lawsuit against the Rocklin Crossings project that is expected to bring a Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other stores immediately south of Interstate 80 along Sierra College Boulevard. Loomis challenged the adequacy of Rocklin’s environmental impact report on six different areas, all of which a Sacramento County Superior Court judge recently denied. Rocklin Commons Across the street from the Crossings is the proposed Rocklin Commons project at Granite Drive and Sierra College Boulevard, which would have brought a proposed Target, Kohl’s and 415,000 square feet of retail space. Court action regarding the project’s environmental impact report has been halted, according to Loomis Town Manager Perry Beck. “Since the issues of Rocklin Commons and Crossings are virtually the same and the developer is the same, we think that a settlement on the Crossings would carry over to the Commons,” Beck said. Liss said the combined one million square feet of retail space proposed for that corridor would be devastating to Loomis. “The lights, the noise and the congestion on Sierra College Boulevard are all going to be difficult to deal with,” Liss said. Rocklin Lowe’s In January, Rocklin and Loomis finally resolved the lawsuit over Rocklin’s project to build a Lowe’s Home Improvement store behind the Chevron and McDonald’s on Sierra College Boulevard at the east end of Granite Drive. “The court asked us to revise a mitigation measure regarding payment of a fair share contribution to the Sierra College Widening Project phase between Granite Drive and Taylor Road,” said Rocklin City Attorney Russell Hildebrand. Rocklin made the change and Loomis accepted. But according to Lowe’s corporate officials, plans for a store at the location are not active right now. Even so, officials from both municipalities agree cooperation over the widening project has created a new era of cooperation between them. “I am encouraged, by what appears to be a new spirit of cooperation between our local governments based on recent joint efforts to improve Sierra College Boulevard,” said Rocklin Mayor Scott Yuill. Liss said the litigation strategy got Rocklin’s attention. Officials from both sides now meet regularly in a meeting room instead of a courtroom to hash out issues. “Litigation is not a great way to resolve problems,” Liss said. “They could be resolved earlier in the process, with less money, staff time, anguish and negative energy. We would rather focus our energy on positive things.” Yuill and Liss said they plan to coordinate efforts to cross promote the two downtowns. Rocklin 60 Liss is hopeful good will can translate into good things for residents concerned about the proposed Rocklin 60 housing development that is right up against existing homes off Brace Road. The Rocklin project is expected to construct up to 179 single-family homes on 56.9 acres located south of I-80 between the proposed Rocklin Crossing project and Dias Lane. Loomis resident Frank Parker lives on Dias Lane and said he is horrified by the impending development of his rural lifestyle. “We’re not happy about it,” Parker said. “If I wanted to live in the city, I’d move to the city. It is just going to be a lot of traffic congestion.” Parker said he is pleased with Liss and the council using taxpayer money to get developments changed. “It’s slowed it down this far and the economy helped us out,” he said. Liss said the developers and Rocklin are cooperating. “We’ll see if our concerns were addressed,” Liss said. “We want (housing) lots that back up to Loomis to be larger so they can be more consistent with Loomis. And not having access to Rocklin 60 from Dias Lane or Brace Road is another concern.” Access to Dias Lane is expected to be limited to emergency police and fire vehicles only. Clover Valley Despite a lagging economy that has stifled plans for further development of Clover Valley, Loomis’ lawsuit is nearing trial as soon as their appeal is heard by the 3rd District Court of Appeals. Liss hopes the town can move past the litigation and work on converting Clover Valley into a park and nature preserve. “That would be a wonderful way forward,” Liss said. “Let the owners get money for their land from a land trust or other tool. Then we’ll buy the land and preserve it for future prosperity with all the wonderful historic, archeological and nature resources there.” Rocklin officials had no comment on the park idea. Loomis is also watching projects proposed in the Del Mar Business Park, Whitney Ranch and the Secret Ravine areas of Rocklin. Liss is hopeful litigation will not be necessary.