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Stone Mill Center Wins Lawsuit

The Tuolumne County Business Council is an organization with the mission of supporting and facilitating  economic growth, good jobs and better communities.  Our goals for responsible growth and a sustainable community require a growing population, more employment and more roofs in Tuolumne County.  We are very pleased with the April 13, 2018 decision by Judge Frank Dougherty to rule against the lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsible Growth, and their President Barbara Farkas, towards the Stone Mill Center at the Pedro Wye in Sonora/Columbia. The attorney for the more aptly named ‘Citizens Responsible for No Growth’ attempted, and failed, to convince Judge Dougherty that an extensive and expensive Environmental Impact Report was required for the project to move forward.

Those of us from the Tuolumne County Business Council who were in attendance were impressed with the thorough research that Judge Dougherty conducted and the logical way in which he reached his decision that an EIR was not required for a site development permit that is typically a simple administrative permit in the vast majority of Counties in California. He clearly spent significant time and effort in gaining a full understanding of the project, including a detailed review of the public comments made before the Tuolumne County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. We were dumbfounded that no members of Citizens for Responsible Growth were in attendance for the proceedings, given the considerable legal costs that they have caused and incurred in the creation of this lawsuit.

We also applaud the developer, Columbia Union LLC, for their willingness to see the judicial process through, at considerable legal expense to themselves, when it may have been less costly to reach an out of court settlement.  We are optimistic that this Court decision will mark the end of frivolous lose, lose lawsuits designed solely to slow down needed improvements in our County and add unnecessary expense. The developer, Columbia Union LLC, incurred legal expense of $75,000 and the project was delayed for over a year. Columbia Area residents did not have a local prompt care, which is part of this proposed project, and the delay costs needed jobs, fees and tax revenue. The tax revenue delay is especially important in these times of County budget deficits, as the $100,000 of new revenue generated yearly by the Stone Mill Center is desperately needed to reduce cuts in the services that our County currently provides.

 

Jeff Redoutey

President, Tuolumne County Business Council