Martis Valley Moves Forward

For the first time in nearly three years, there are no pending lawsuits over development in the Martis Valley sandwiched between Truckee and Lake Tahoe.
One of California's more contentious and high-profile land
disputes has been resolved.
A settlement agreement announced Wednesday ends a more than
two-year legal fight over the future of a scenic Sierra valley and
parties in the dispute said it will allow planning for the area's
future to proceed.
The pact was approved Sept. 6 by Placer County Superior Court
Judge James D. Garbolino.
"All the litigation is settled, and that's good," said Anthony
LaBouff, Placer County counsel. "Everybody can walk away thinking
that there's a future to be worked on together."
A coalition of conservation groups sued Placer County in January
2004, alleging a 20-year blueprint for growth that could bring more
than 6,000 new homes and several golf courses to the Martis area
violated California environmental law.
In May 2005, Garbolino ruled against the county, concluding the
development plan created "opportunities to create environmental
mischief." He ordered the county to halt all development
activities associated with the Martis Valley Community Plan and the
county appealed that decision.
"This agreement is great news for Martis Valley, Lake Tahoe and
the entire Sierra Nevada," said Tom Mooers, executive director of
Sierra Watch, one of the groups that sued over the development
strategy.
Settlement of the umbrella lawsuit over the county's plan was
made possible after separate but related settlements between
conservationists and developers.
One of those, announced in April, allowed an upscale golf resort
to be built and more than $72 million to be raised to preserve open
space and build housing for Truckee-area workers.
Developer DMB/Highlands agreed to ditch plans to build 65
exclusive homes and an 18-hole golf course on Hopkins Ranch,
instead preserving the 280-acre area as open space. Another project
would continue on the 2,100-acre Siller Ranch, with 653 homes and
an 18-hole golf course planned there.
A conveyance fee for homes sales and resales on the property
would raise more than $72 million for conservation purposes over 25
years.
East-West Partners, another major Martis developer, agreed to a
similar proposal last year. East-West is building 212 condos and a
commercial complex at Northstar-at-Tahoe and plans to build another
1,450 condos and a Ritz-Carlton Hotel at the ski resort.
The agreement between conservationists and East-West would raise
$30 million over 25 years to preserve open space and fund other
conservation efforts.
"It's an historic achievement for everyone who is committed to
a better blueprint for the Tahoe-Truckee region," Mooers said.
"This has been maybe the biggest land-use dispute in the Sierra
for five years and now it's entered a new phase of working
together."


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