Clover Valley suit moving forward;
Loomis, Sierra Club case against development to be heard in Sacramento court
By Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
A Loomis lawsuit against the proposed Clover Valley development has been consolidated with the Sierra Club/Clover Valley lawsuit and will be heard in a Sacramento court.
The Town of Loomis filed a lawsuit in September against the City of Rocklin and Clover Valley developers citing traffic mitigation, according to Don Mooney, outside counsel for the Town of Loomis.
In November, the parties met for a mandatory settlement conference and agreed to stipulate that the venue be changed from Placer County to Sacramento County.
According to Loomis Town Manager Perry Beck, the lawsuit asks that all approvals and the environmental impact report be set aside and that a new, adequate EIR be considered. The suit also requests all attorney fees and costs to Loomis be reimbursed.
"What we are saying in the lawsuit is that the analysis of the roads was deficient and should be reviewed and redone to account for the impacts on Sierra College Boulevard and also the roads to schools," Beck said.
Beck said people living in Clover Valley would attend Loomis schools and use three main roads to get the children to school: King Road, Humphrey Road and Taylor Road, as well as Sierra College Boulevard.
"That's how people would get to schools and we're concerned that those weren't looked at for mitigation measures and improvements to ensure traffic safety," he said.
The Clover Valley Foundation and Sierra Club jointly filed a separate suit against Rocklin over their Sept. 11 approval of the 558-home Clover Valley residential and commercial development.
Their lawsuit contends the Rock-lin city council failed to properly consider serious adverse environmental impacts from the project on existing oak wildland and the effect of locomotive diesel smoke on residents who would move to the new development.
The Rocklin council decision led to a lawsuit and also a petition drive that put the issue on a referendum ballot in February 2008. The lawsuit is asking the court to set aside the council actions, effectively delaying the project and forcing the developer to expand on its initial environmental studies. Doug Brewer, Clover Valley Foundation director, said air quality and traffic are two major concerns for the area.
"The cross-valley highway, with its huge 60-feet cut and fills, is projected to bring 14,000 additional cars to Park Drive in Rocklin," Brewer said.
The increase in traffic and congestion will contribute incrementally to the region's overall decline in air quality "and brings environmental degradation directly into our residential communities," Brewer said.
Mooney, who acted as outside counsel for Loomis on the Bickford Ranch lawsuit and the West Roseville lawsuit, explained that when two jurisdictions within a county are involved in litigation then typically a request for a venue change is made.
According to Mooney, preliminary work is being done on the case and the earliest it could be heard would be summer 2008. None of the parties are sure how the Rocklin referendum on the February ballot will affect the lawsuits.
Rick Massie, of developer Clover Valley Partners, said the lawsuits would not stop the development of Clover Valley.
"If there are some errors in (the development plan), you just have to repair the errors and take care of the mitigation and (the plan) goes forward even as the lawsuit is pending," Massie said. "It doesn't stop it."
Clover Valley is 622-acres of undeveloped land in the northwest corner of Rocklin bordering Loomis near Sierra College Boulevard.
The valley has been the subject of many debates since 1997 when the Rocklin City Council approved zoning for the development of 950 homes with 60 acres of open space.
Toby Lewis, The Placer Herald
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The United Auburn Indian Community announced Thursday plans to purchase about 65 acres of Clover Valley.
The agreement was made with owner Clover Valley Partners to purchase 154 lots on the valley floor if voters pass Measure H on Feb. 5, said Doug Elmets, a spokesperson for UAIC.
"The land is essentially the valley floor of Clover Valley and it encompasses 33 Native American sites that are culturally connected to members of the United Auburn Indian Community," Elmets said.
Measure H is a development agreement between Clover Valley Partners and the city of Rocklin to build 558 homes in the undisturbed 622-acre valley in Rocklin's northeast corner.
The development plan also includes 366 acres of open space, a two-lane road connecting Park Drive to Sierra College Boulevard, construction of new hiking trails, a bike path and a new fire station.
Opponents of the development began a campaign to defeat Measure H after the Rocklin City Council unanimously approved the project in August 2007.
The Save Clover Valley Coalition drafted a referendum to challenge the agreement and collected nearly 5,000 signatures to have the issue placed on the Feb. 5 ballot.
"This deal does nothing to stop 14,000 cars per day on Rocklin streets," said Elaine O'Deegan of the Save Clover Valley Coalition. "A 'No' vote on Measure H forces the developer to sell the entire valley to a group that wants to preserve it and stops the destruction of more than 7,000 oak trees and saves Clover Valley." Elmets said if Measure H does not pass, the Tribe will not follow through with the purchase agreement and the developer will have the right to revert back to the original zoning which includes approval for more than 900 homes in the valley.
"The Tribe is absolutely intent on saving the valley and the agreement has been achieved whereby the Tribe, the developer and the city of Rocklin will all be able to achieve some element of success," Elmets said to The Placer Herald in an interview last year.
The 33 sites deemed sacred by the Tribe include village dwellings, rock art panels, ceremonial sites and four burial grounds dating back as far as 5,000 B.C. All 33 sites qualify for the National Registry of Historical Places.
There are also preliminary plans to build a cultural center that will help educate the public about Clover Valley's rich Native American legacy, Elmets said.
"So what was previously closed to the residents of Rocklin will now be open to not only appreciate the beauty but also understand the cultural significance that exists there," Elmets said. As part of the agreement, the Tribe will also contribute to the construction of two miles of bike trails in Clover Valley, Elmets said.