Broadband project stalled by lawsuit | SierraSun.com

Broadband project stalled by lawsuit

Paul Raymore
Sierra Sun

Though legally able to proceed with financing and construction of a planned $24 million broadband network, Truckee Donner Public Utility District officials admitted that moving forward is almost impossible because of a lawsuit brought by their future competitor.

While the Truckee Donner Public Utility District was not originally named in the lawsuit brought by Cebridge Connections against the Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) for that agency’s approval of the project, the district has joined the lawsuit as an interested party. District officials said they hope that legal roadblocks will be resolved by early summer.

According to Steve Gross, legal counsel for the Truckee Donner Public Utility District, the court hearing is currently scheduled for June 14 and a decision from the court would take approximately 30 to 60 days. After the decision, either party has the right to appeal.

“The practical effect of the lawsuit has been to stop the district from moving forward,” Gross said.

Pete Abel, a spokesman for Cebridge Connections, has said that despite a “constructive dialogue” with LAFCo over the district’s planned broadband project, his company still has a number of concerns about the legality of the proposed fiber-optic network and the financial viability of the district’s plan.

Because of those concerns, Abel said, Cebridge has asked the California Superior Court to validate the decision LAFCo made to allow the TDPUD to build its broadband system.

“I want to underscore that the technical term for what we have done is a ‘confirmation hearing,'” Abel said. “We’re not seeking damages from LAFCo, we’re just going out and seeking a confirmation of their decision.”

Vowing that Cebridge would abide by the court’s final decision, Abel said he believes the hearing is good for all parties involved.

If the court sides with LAFCo, both LAFCo and the district can be sure the plan is legitimate, Abel said, and if the court finds problems with LAFCo’s approval, the district can modify or abandon its plan to build a system that may violate state law.