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Sierra Club lawsuit challenges project

University proposed in western Placer cited
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the county’s approval of a plan that would create urban growth and allow for a new university campus in western Placer County. The lawsuit challenges the Regional University Specific Plan, which the club argues would trigger major growth in a remote area, cause traffic congestion and air pollution. County officials say they are confident with how they’ve handled the process to approve the plan. Part of the project includes a 3,232-home subdivision, 22 acres of shopping centers, 230 acres of park, open space and public lands, as well as a site for a university. The Placer County Board of Supervisors gave the plan an initial approval Dec. 10. Drexel University, a private four-year institution based in Philadelphia, has expressed interest in building in the county but no plans are concrete. Last May, the university opened a Sacramento gradate school. Sierra Club officials argue the plan will mean a loss of nearby farmland because of the Curry Creek Community Plan, which would reportedly house 56,250 new county residents. “A new surge of development in a location like this harms our health and contributes to climate change,” said Terry Davis, spokesman for the Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club, in a press release. County Counsel Anthony La Bouff said the office was served with the suit Thursday afternoon. “The applicant and the county are disappointed that litigation is the next step, but I’m not surprised,” La Bouff said. He said the suit challenges that the county did not follow the California Environmental Quality Act legal process. “I’m confident with what the county staff, working with the applicant, presented to the board of supervisors is appropriate and consistent with the law,” La Bouff said. “Someday we’ll all be happy that the university will be built there.” Club officials say there are other “responsible” locations for a university such as within Roseville or Lincoln city limits. Drexel University officials have previously stated that they want to work with the community, including local businesses. “We’re all about trying to bring higher education and technology-rich education and making it practical,” said Tobey Oxholm, Drexel University executive vice president and chief of staff, in a May Journal report. “We’re known for use-inspired research. Everything we’re doing is practical and useful.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.