Two Martis Valley projects exempted from judge’s ruling |

Two Martis Valley projects exempted from judge’s ruling

Although Placer County’s superior court deemed the Martis Valley Community Plan illegal last month, two Martis Valley developments plan to begin construction this summer.The Northstar Highlands project and Eaglewood were exempted from Judge James Garbolino’s final judgment that ordered construction in the Martis Valley to cease until a legal Martis Valley Plan is adopted. In the judgment released on Tuesday, Garbolino cited the two developers’ cooperation with conservationists as a reason why they will not be bound by the lawsuit decision.Both projects have agreed to contribute funds for land preservation in the Martis Valley. Additionally, through an agreement between the owners of Northstar and conservation groups headed by Nevada City-based Sierra Watch, the resort agreed to block off a large portion of its property to future development.”We had asked [that these projects be exempted] because we wanted these projects to go forward,” said Tom Mooers, Sierra Watch executive director.

The two projects that were approved by Placer County, but are bound by the judge’s ruling, are Hopkins Ranch and Siller Ranch, both proposed by DMB Highlands Group. The proposed subdivisions are also mired in two separate lawsuits filed by environmental groups that claim each project approval violated state law.Placer County has decided to appeal the superior court’s decision, said Placer County Attorney Rick Crabtree.”We’re appealing on every issue,” said Crabtree, adding that Placer County specifically disagrees that the environmental impact report for the Martis plan was invalid.The court battle will continue at the court of appeals, where an outcome will take approximately 18 months to be decided, Crabtree said.

Meanwhile, future projects at Northstar-at-Tahoe, including a small single-family home development and improvements to the ski resort, will also not be affected by the nullification of the Martis plan, according to the judgment.East West Partners, the development company that will be building the 1,450 condominiums at Northstar Highlands, is now only waiting on county permits to start construction.”Now that the judge has issued a final ruling that clears the way for us to get the permits from Placer County,” said David Tirman of East West PartnersEast West plans to put in infrastructure and utilities this summer and begin construction “in earnest” by May 2006, said Tirman.

“It is good news for Northstar and East West Partners,” Tirman said of the judge’s ruling.Developers of Eaglewood, which plans 462 residential units and an 18-hole golf course off of Schaffer Mill Road, have said that they also plan to begin building this summer.The lawsuit decision, if it stands, will require Placer County to process a new environmental impact report for the Martis Valley Community Plan. It will also freeze development plans for the approximately 8,000 acres on the east side of Highway 267 that have been planned for development, said Mooers.”The county cannot do anything with [Sierra Pacific Industries land] or Waddle Ranch,” Mooers said.

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