Developer's bankruptcy raises county concerns
He said he county certainly has concerns about collecting nearly $200,000 in back taxes DMA owes Lassen County.
But an even bigger issue is the ongoing litigation surrounding the proposed project, especially the challenge to the developer agreement filed last October by the Mountain Meadows Conservancy, Sierra Watch and the Chico-based Yahi Group of the Sierra Club.
The suit, filed in Lassen County Superior Court, claims the county did not follow California environmental law in certifying the project’s Environmental Impact Report, development agreement and tentative parcel map for the resort.
An amendment, filed on Tuesday, Jan. 8, alleges the development agreement violates the voter-approved 2000 initiative, which zoned as mountain resort the area around Dyer Mountain and Walker Lake.
The three groups allege the initiative gave the county the option of changing the land-use designation on the project site if construction of ski facilities had not commenced within seven years.
The suit initially asked the court to set aside the Board of Supervisors’ certification of the EIR, development agreement and parcel map.
The three groups also seek an order directing the county to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, a temporary stay and restraining order, and preliminary and permanent injunctions stopping the county and its agents from taking any action to implement the project until full compliance with CEQA.
The suit said the 6,741-acre ski area and golf resort on undeveloped land on the flanks of Dyer Mountain “would house at least 17,382 people, making it in essence a brand-new city, just miles from Westwood, a small community of about 2,000 people.”
The large new population and unprecedented degree of construction in an undeveloped and sparsely populated area will lead to “a wide array of significant environmental impacts,” it said.
Two-thirds of Westwood voters and almost 63 percent of voters countywide supported a November 2000 ballot initiative that amended the General Plan, Zoning Ordinance and Westwood Area Plan to allow the development of the four-season resort.
Regarding the court battle over CEQA and the developer agreement, Ketelsen said, “They (DMA) are the real party, and we don’t want to get in too deeply. The county doesn’t want to defend an insolvent real party.”
Ketelsen said attorneys from both sides were providing the court with documents for the proceeding.
He characterizes the lawsuit as a complex case with “a lot of nuisances and subplots.”
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