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Groups join to fight Foresthill development

Environmental organization, residents file suit in Placer
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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A Foresthill residents’ group and an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the North Fork of the American River have joined forces to fight Placer County in court over the recently adopted Foresthill Divide Community Plan. Eight years in the making, the plan was adopted on a 5-0 vote by supervisors Dec. 9, despite warnings by Foresthill Residents for Responsible Growth and Friends of the North Fork that court action would follow. Citing failure to analyze growth projections built into the plan, water supply inadequacies and impacts related to climate change, the two groups challenged the decision in a petition for writ of mandate filed last week in Placer County Superior Court. One of the chief arguments in the suit is that a projected 62,000 population at build-out for all land-use designations was inadequately studied in favor of the impact over 20 years of the expected growth during that time to about 22,000 population on the divide. County planners have argued that the 62,000 population figure represents an unattainable number that would only take place if all land was developed, including park land owned by the federal government. Supervisors were told at the December meeting that the objections received at that time were not significant enough to stop a final vote. County Counsel Anthony La Bouff reiterated Monday that questions about holding capacity in the plan area, water and traffic were seriously and adequately analyzed. “It think we got it right but that’s what they build courthouses for,” La Bouff said. Sherry Wicks, chairwoman of Foresthill Residents for Responsible Growth, said San Francisco’s Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger filed the court action just under a month after a nine-page brief on problems with the plan’s environmental impact review and other documentation had been submitted to the county by the law firm. “The letter addressed everything and spelled out our concerns,” Wicks said. “We had our attorneys review everything.” The suit comes days after a similar action stemming from another Board of Supervisors decision Dec. 9 was announced. The Sierra Club filed its suit against a plan for a regional university in South Placer County on grounds that it is too far away from urban growth, will cause traffic congestion and air pollution, and will make it harder for California to meet its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.