Placer supes’ North Auburn Wal-Mart/Costco approval goes to court

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The dispute over a Wal-Mart-Costco development in North Auburn has now reached the courts. The 18.6-acre site near Luther Road and Highway 49 was approved for development Sept. 28 by the Placer County Board of Supervisors but a group formed to fight plans for a 155,000-square-foot store filed a court action last week challenging the decision. In papers filed in Placer County superior court, the Alliance for the Protection of the Auburn Community (APACE) contends that environmental documentation for developer Bohemia Properties of Roseville was incomplete and failed to adequately analyze impacts on air quality, traffic and existing businesses. Tal Finney, Sacramento attorney for APACE, said the petition for a writ of mandate is questioning what are considered major deficiencies in the environmental impact report for the Bohemia project. “That includes giving short shrift to the impact of naturally occurring asbestos,” Finney said. Both Placer County and Bohemia Properties are named in the petition and were served last week. While the county has the 15-page writ under review, a spokesman for Bohemia said APACE doesn’t have a case and is only going to court to delay construction and wear Bohemia Properties down legally and financially in an attempt to scuttle the project. Citing unanimous Board of Supervisors approval Sept. 28, a planning commission vote in favor of the project and staff support, Bohemia project coordinator Steve Cavolt said the APACE decision to move into the courts will immediately cost the community hundreds of construction jobs, delay more than $1 million in annual sales-tax revenue for the county and leave hundreds of retail jobs still to be created. “It’s a totally bogus lawsuit they hope will stall the project and make Jim Conkey go away,” Cavolt said. “They can’t win. All they can do is delay.” Scott Finley, Placer County supervising deputy county counsel, said the county is reviewing the writ and examining all its option. “After the review, this office will take whatever action is necessary to represent the county’s interests,” Finley said. Among the points made in the APACE writ are that: - A draft environmental impact report mentioned the risk of naturally occurring asbestos as an impact to air quality and suggested a previous analysis showed none on the site. But the draft omitted the data from the report, the writ stated. - The final impact report didn’t include an additional urban decay analysis after a draft that avoided providing data on the recession while arbitrarily inflating projected growth. - The environmental documentation failed to consider a reasonable range of alternatives, including a mixed-use development of two buildings totaling 100,000 square feet. Conkey has said that while Costco has expressed the most interest in the site, no agreements have been made and he’s leaving the identity – be it Costco, Wal-Mart or another business – off county documentation in case any potential agreements don’t materializ