64 Acres upheld
A federal judge in Sacramento put to rest this week a lawsuit filed by neighbors of a proposed transit center in Tahoe City.The decision by Judge Lawrence Carlton to dismiss the lawsuit came after a lengthy legal battle regarding the proposed centers impact on the environment and surrounding community. Several neighbors filed suit against Placer County, the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Transit AdministrationThe proposed transit center would provide space for six buses, designated waiting areas, parking for 130 vehicles and an office, and would encompass about 2.5 acres in the 64-acre recreational park near the Tahoe City wye.Tahoe Tavern and Tavern Shores property owners filed a claim against state officials after Placer County approved the transit centers development plans last year, on the grounds that the project violated environmental policy and federal law stipulating the areas recreational use.After analyzing the projects environmental impact report, Judge Carlton ruled Monday that the project met state environmental standards, allowing construction of the transit center to proceed, said attorney Rick Crabtree, who was hired by Placer County to defend against the lawsuit.The court also determined that the 64-acre property was jointly planned for both transportation and recreational uses.Judge Carltons decision was carefully reasoned and, frankly, correct, said Crabtree. We are confident that Judge Carltons decision would be upheld if there is an appeal.Tony Rossmann, an attorney representing the Tahoe Tavern and Tavern Shores homeowners associations, said an appeal is possible, but he would take no action until he has discussed the matter with his clients.I think the judge is not honoring the letter of the law or the policy of the law, Rossmann said.Advocates for the transit center contend it would solve traffic issues in Tahoe City by providing alternative methods of transportation as well as encouraging people to park their cars and walk. People have to run across the street to change buses in Tahoe City, said Jan Colyer, the executive director of Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association. We need a place where it can be done right.Opponents are fighting to preserve the 64 acre area the way it is, as an undeveloped recreational park in close proximity to Tahoe City.We dont want it developed any more than its already developed, said Richard Mallet, a 35-year Tahoe City resident who strongly opposes the transit project.We turned out in force, said Mallet. Hundreds and hundreds of people turned out in the community saying, No, we dont want [a transit center at 64 acres.] The business community didnt listen to us, Placer County didnt listen, the [Tahoe Regional Planning Agency] didnt listen. They may have won the battle, but they have lost the war.As long as no appeal is filed, Placer County plans to finalize funding for the project this summer, and to begin construction in 2009, said Placer Public Works Deputy Director Peter Kraatz.
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