Lawsuit stops west slope development
The future of development projects on the west slope became cloudier than ever on Monday, as two citizens groups filed a lawsuit to put the brakes on three proposed shopping centers in the Missouri Flat area of Placerville.
El Dorado County Taxpayers For Quality Growth and the Control Traffic Congestion Committee – the major forces behind the push to pass Measure Y in November – are the groups behind the lawsuit. The latter group also sued to overturn the approval of the proposed 244-home Silver Springs subdivision, near Green Valley Road in Shingle Springs.
In essence, the lawsuits contend that El Dorado County is ignoring Measure Y, and did not have the authority to approve the development projects – which they did over a period of two weeks in late December 1998.
The suits are not unexpected, coming as they did one month after a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled that El Dorado County’s General Plan was invalid.
“The key point is that we are concerned over the way public tax money is being used to subsidize massive commercial development,” said Bill Center, a former El Dorado County supervisor who was an active supporter in the push to pass Measure Y.
“Just like they did in the General Plan, the county has refused to reveal the horrendous traffic congestion impacts of these projects,” said Keith Johnson of El Dorado County Taxpayers for Quality Growth. “The Missouri Flat Project is requiring county taxpayers to pay up to $30 million for roadway improvements. … Measure Y makes it clear that commercial development must pay its own way and not make traffic worse.”
The Missouri Flat Project is actually three separate commercial development projects that would bring three shopping centers – including new Wal-Mart, Target and J.C. Penney outlets – to an area in west Placerville near the junction of Missouri Flat Road and U.S. Highway 50. One of the projects is Sundance Plaza, a proposed shopping center on 70 acres which borders a creek and wetlands.
Pro-growth factions have long maintained that the projects are badly needed to boost the county’s revenue base and provide a growing population with a reason to stay in the county to do their shopping.
But on the other side of the fence are the Measure Y supporters – those who contend that all this development will lead to financial chaos and traffic gridlock, and also harm the environment.
Measure Y, passed overwhelmingly by voters in November, provides that developers account for all costs connected to their projects.
“A lot of the concern probably emanates from the fact that the Sundance developers want the county to pay for a $3 million road improvement connected to their project,” said First District Supervisor Sam Bradley. “In essence, the developers want the county to pay for their driveway. There is concern over that.”
Gibson & Skordal of Sacramento are the developers connected to Sundance Plaza.
The driveway in question is the Headington Road extension, a $3 million project which would connect to the Sundance Plaza Shopping Center. Also in question is the Missouri Flat interchange, which would also need to be improved due to the increase in traffic from Sundance Plaza to and from U.S. Highway 50.
Center, who is a part-time resident of Stateline, thinks that the South Lake Tahoe area should pay close attention to what happens next.
“In terms of water-use issues, in terms of traffic congestion on Highway 50, and in terms of tax revenue, I don’t see any upside for Tahoe (if the development projects move forward),” Center said. “As Tahoe residents well know, there is no substitute for well-maintained growth. That’s what we are advocating.”
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