Brief: Plan to develop Martis Valley ‘unlawful’
September 5, 2004
TRUCKEE – Placer County’s Martis Valley development plan is “unlawful,” according to a legal brief filed by town officials.
The “friend of the court” brief filed last week by Truckee supports a lawsuit brought this year by several environmental groups trying to scale down development allowed under Placer County’s Martis Valley Community Plan.
The judge presiding over the litigation, headed by Nevada City, Calif.-based Sierra Watch, will determine whether to accept the town’s document before the trial begins. The brief alerts the judge of the town’s unique perspective regarding development in the Martis Valley, but does not make Truckee a party to the litigation, according to Town Attorney Dennis Crabb.
The Martis Valley Community Plan, which allows for more than 6,000 new homes in the valley bordering Truckee’s southern edge, was approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors in December, but several environmental groups quickly filed suit against the plan.
It’s still unclear what influence the brief will have in the outcome of the litigation, but the wording of the document bolsters the plaintiffs’ charges by criticizing Placer’s assumptions regarding affordable housing and traffic. Placer County, according to the town, relied on two unadopted housing ordinances to show how affordable housing impacts in the valley would be mitigated.
“It is the town’s position that the Environmental Impact Report prepared by Placer County is fatally flawed in three areas: its analysis of the workforce housing impacts of the project, the traffic impacts which will be generated by the project and the measures required to mitigate those impacts on the Town of Truckee,” the brief said.
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Crabb, who wrote the brief, said it “has whatever weight the judge gives it.”
The brief indicates the town had high hopes for effective resolutions on affordable housing and traffic measures in the early stages of the community plan development, but as the plan progressed. it became clear that Truckee’s concerns were not being addressed by Placer County.
“Despite the town’s best effort to achieve [a response to environmental and community issues] by communicating with Placer County, both formally and informally, the results have been both unsatisfactory and, in the Town’s opinion, unlawful,” the brief said.
Placer County Planning Director Fred Yeager said that he was not surprised by Truckee’s decision to appeal the Siller Ranch project, a 726-unit subdivision approved under the Martis Valley Community Plan, or the town’s move to file an brief in support of the lawsuit against the broader Martis Valley Community Plan.
“We recognize that everything in the Martis Valley is really controversial, and that the Siller Ranch project is still more controversial,” Yeager said.
Placer County recently submitted its brief responding to the litigants’ challenge of the plan. The trial in the Martis litigation will not start for months.