Martis Valley decision looms |

Martis Valley decision looms

David Bunker
Josh Miller/Tribune News Service/ The legality of the Martis Valley Community plan is in the hands of a Placer County judge after the Placer County plan was challenged by environmental groups.

TRUCKEE – The legal briefs and arguments are final and the future of development in Martis Valley hangs on a judge’s decision.

On Monday, Judge James Garbolino heard Placer County, Martis Valley land owners and conservationists argue the legality of the Martis Valley Community Plan adopted by Placer County in 2003. Nearly 14 months after the Placer County plan was challenged by five environmental groups, a resolution in the legal battle over the extent and intensity of development in the valley is imminent.

“All that’s left now is for the judge to issue a final decision,” said Rick Crabtree, attorney for Placer County.

Conservationists and Placer County expanded on arguments they had already raised in briefs submitted to the judge in the five-hour hearing held in Auburn on Monday. Relying on those briefs, the California Superior Court issued a tentative ruling in February, that favored almost all of the conservationists claims that the community plan and environmental review are faulty.

However, a final ruling in the case will not be released until Garbolino analyzes both oral and written arguments in the case. Crabtree said that process could still take weeks.

The central argument in the Martis Valley lawsuit is how much development will be allowed under the plan. Since the community plan does not include a growth cap, conservationists say future zoning changes could make way for much greater development than analyzed under the plan’s environmental review.

Crabtree said the county welcomed the opportunity to explain how the county “fine-tuned” growth limitations through zoning standards that are used throughout Placer County.

“I felt good about having an opportunity to explain to the judge why the county relied on zoning to limit growth in Martis Valley,” said Crabtree. Representatives of the conservationists that have sued the Placer County plan said they would not make comments on the case until after the judge made his final ruling. The attorney for the environmental groups could not be reached for comment.

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