Settlement reached in Truckee Railyard development case
UPDATE: 3:05 p.m. Thursday
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; A settlement agreement has been reached regarding the oft-debated and oft-delayed Railyard development project, nearly a year after former Nevada County Superior Court Judge C. Anders Holmer ruled in favor of the town and developer.
According to the April 18 agreement, the plaintiffs and#8212; grouped as the Friends of Truckee and Team Truckee for Smart Growth and#8212; shall not oppose or challenge any further permits or approvals of the Railyard Master Plan, which includes a development planned for the east end of downtown Truckee.
The ruling is a big win for the town and the developer and#8212; Holliday Development and Truckee Development Associates and#8212; said Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook in a phone interview this week, because the planning process for the project can move forward.
and#8220;I am really pleased that the staff work that was done and the information provided by the Holliday team was able to answer all questions and allowed a favorable ruling by Superior Court,and#8221; Lashbrook said.
The plaintiffs filed suit against the town and developer in July 2009, alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act in the preparation of the Railyardand#8217;s Environmental Impact Report. The group took issue regarding restoration plans for Trout Creek, demolition plans for an old Union Pacific Maintenance Building dating back to the early 1900s and the re-routing of Donner Pass Road.
Holmer ruled in favor of Holliday and the town in a June 10, 2010, ruling, which was later appealed by the Friendsand#8217; group.
Following the appeal, the parties held settlement talks, and, according to the April 18 agreement, decided their and#8220;mutual interests would be best served if any and all legal disputes involving the (Railyard Master Plan) … are resolved without further litigation.and#8221;
Rick Holliday, project owner, said the settlement came after the town and developer were awarded nearly $27,000 in court-ordered administrative costs by Judge Holmer in his initial ruling and#8212; but offered not to collect them, in return for the plaintiffs to drop their appeal.
and#8220;They offered to drop the appeal if we dropped the legal fees for our case,and#8221; Holliday said. and#8220;I think we would have won the appeal easily and they would have owed us more money, but we felt it was best for everybody for this to be over.and#8221;
Holliday said the result is road work and project development for the Railyard project can move forward.
and#8220;Itand#8217;s really exciting,and#8221; Holliday said.
A timeline for moving forward is unknown at this time. The first official step in the Railyard Master Plan site will likely be a three- or four-screen movie theater with residential units, Holliday has said. The entire plan could bring residential units, commercial space, a movie theater and even move Donner Pass Road and the railroad’s balloon track.
Speaking about the current relationship with between himself and the plaintiff groups, Holliday said he hopes they can have constructive conversations together, as they will meet soon to discuss the project, as agreed in the settlement.
A difficulty during the legal proceeding, Holliday said, was communicating with the primary individuals funding the lawsuit and appeal, who he said would not sit down with him and talk about project concerns.
Friends of Truckee spokespeople did not respond to requests from the Sun for comment for this story. Plaintiff Bryan Devoe and#8212; named in the suit as one of the joint plaintiffs representing Team Truckee for Smart Growth and#8212; declined to comment.
In the Sunand#8217;s initial online story breaking this news Wednesday, Devoe was incorrectly labeled as a spokesman for Friends of Truckee.
According to the settlement, Friends of Truckee must pay a $5,000 charitable donation to the town of Truckee for its Trout Creek Restoration Project. Furthermore, Holliday and TDA will donate $5,000 to the Donner Truckee Historical Society.
Holiday said the $5,000 donations were agreed upon by both parties as a positive gesture going forward.
Lashbrook said the Railyard first envisioned an overhaul in 1995. In his nearly 30 years working as a community planner, Lashbrook said he had not see the amount of support for the Railyard project as he saw in this case.
and#8220;To have this … litigation behind us in the process will help greatly with actual construction,and#8221; Lashbrook said.
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