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Tuolumne Sues Over ‘Massive’ Oak Canyon

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As promised, Tuolumne County has filed a lawsuit against Calaveras County over its approval of the Oak Canyon Ranch development near Copperopolis.

The suit, filed Thursday by Sacramento attorney, Somach, Simmons and Dunn, said approval of Oak Canyon violates the California Environmental Quality Act.

Calaveras County failed to appropriately mitigate impacts of the project, namely traffic impacts on O´Byrnes Ferry Road, court documents said. Twenty-one percent of the project´s traffic will pass through the O´Byrnes Ferry Road and Highway 108/120 intersection, which is “already the highest accident location in Tuolumne County,” the lawsuit said.

It alleges Calaveras County approved the project without securing adequate water supply, without funding for transportation infrastructure, and without adequately addressing impacts to air quality.

Tuolumne County is asking that Calaveras County be made to rescind, void, or set aside its approval of the project.

Mark Thornton, a Tuolumne County supervisor, said throughout the public comment period of the project, Tuolumne County staff members “engaged with Calaveras County staff and repeatedly pointed out our concerns and repeatedly those concerns were not acted upon.”

Once Calaveras supervisors approved the project there was nothing left to negotiate, Thornton said. “The (Tuolumne) Board of Supervisors had no option but to either accept … and absorb … the consequences of the project or file suit.”

Calaveras supervisors haven´t discussed how they´ll respond to the lawsuit since they haven´t officially been served yet, Janice Elliot, assistant county counsel, said.

Oak Canyon Ranch developers are on track to build 2,275 homes and 704 townhouses on 3,251 acres. At completion the project would add 8,719 vehicle trips per day to O´Byrnes Ferry Road.

Oak Canyon developer Maury Froman had been working with Tuolumne County in hopes of reaching a resolution regarding the O´Byrnes Ferry Road impacts. “We were not able to reach an agreement,” Froman said. “We´re disappointed,” about the lawsuit, he said. “Other than that we´ll have no comment while the lawsuit is in progress.”

Calaveras Enterprise story by Vanessa Turner. For more Calaveras news, click: