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Legal Issues

Following the 3-2 vote by the Board of Supervisors in December 2010 to approve the Roblar Road Quarry, CARRQ and others have focused on taking the only actions we can to stop the quarry.  We have filed suits in Sonoma County Superior Court and with the California Court of Appeals challenging the quarry project's Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the County's decision under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and the County and Open Space District's approval of a tax-paid conservation easement to benefit the developer.  Descriptions of our legal actions follow:

Challenging the Quarry Environmental Impact Report Under CEQA

Aug. 30 Update--Judge Daum Responds to Objections to His Ruling.  Once Again Agrees with CARRQ!

Judge Daum responded to objections by the county and the quarry owner's attorneys of his Aug. 2 ruling in favor of CARRQ's challenge of the quarry project's Environmental Impact Report.   Once again, the judge sided with CARRQ's long-standing position that the quarry project violates California's environmental law.  This ruling makes the judge's decision final. 

Filed Aug. 30, 2012   Final Ruling
 

CARRQ Wins Lawsuit Challenging EIR!!

On August 2, Superior Court Judge Daum issued a final ruling in our favor on the four major areas noted in his tentative ruling (below).  This is a significant win toward protecting the rural quality of life, open space and agricultural land in Sonoma County.  The 34-page court decision is a vindication of the long-term efforts by CARRQ and other people who questioned the County's environmental reveiw process of teh Roblar Rock Quarry. 

CARRQ hopes the County and quarry owner will accept this ruling and end the plan for a quarry on Roblar Road.  However, we anticipate they will appeal this decision.  If the County chooses to continue the process with a new EIR to address the various inadequacies of the current one, we hope the review and any further hearings on a new one will be transparent and open to the public.
 

Filed: Aug. 2, 2012    Ruling

Press Release

Press Democrat Article

Suit Heard June 22, 2012

In January 2011, CARRQ, with co-petitioner Friends of Americano Creek, filed a lawsuit against Sonoma County challenging the Board of Supervisors' approval of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR)  for the Roblar Road Quarry in December, 2010.  Various motions were filed by the County for dismissal and CARRQ for a pre-emptory challenge.  A settlement conference was ordered by the Court and the issues were not resolved. Dates were set by the Court to proceed with preparation of the administrative record, filing of briefs and Court hearing.  On June 22, Judge Daum issued a tentative ruling agreeing with CARRQ in four major areas:

  1. The County's failure to test or study the neighboring landfill for contamination
  2. An inadequate description of the mitigation preserve (planned on a neighbor's property protected from development under a conservation easement)
  3. An inadequate analysis of the impacts or efficacy of the mitigation preserve
  4. Failure to study the impact of widening Roblar Road to handle gravel truck traffic on Americano Creek

Press Democrat article

Rullings:

June 22, 2012:  Tentative Ruling
Superior Court Judge Eliot Daum issued a tentative ruling in favor of four of CARRQ's primary issues with the Roblar Road quarry EIR.

Motions Filed:

Filed: January 13, 2011   Notice of Commencement of Action

Filed January 13, 2011    Writ of Mandate

Filed January 17, 2012   CARRQ vs. County of Sonoma and John Barella

Public Records Act Request

In March 2011, CARRQ filed a motion asking that all documents the Board of Supervisors and County agencies generated or maintained over the past 8 years related to the quarry project be open to the public and placed in the Administrative Record.  The County refused this request claiming many of the documents were Privileged, or that they had been purged as part of the County's document retention plan.   Superior Court Judge Daum ruled against us without even looking at the documents, so CARRQ filed an appeal to his ruling in November 2011.  This motion appeal is still pending.

Filed May 7, 2010  Public Records Act lawsuit

CARRQ Wins Suit to Retain Pro Bono Lawfirm

Decided June 21, 2011.  After filing our initial lawsuit quarry owner John Barella attempted to have our counsel, Morgan Lewis, disqualified as our pro bono attorney citing a conflict of interest.  As disclosed in the court documents, Barella is a major investor in Basin Street Properties, a large development firm that has built and/or owns many properties in Petaluma.  The corporation had been represented by Morgan Lewis for many years.  Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Daum ruled against Barella's motion saying there was no evidence presented of a true conflict of interest and that there was no damage done to Barella by CARRQ's relationship with Morgan Lewis. This was a significant win for CARRQ because we would not have been able to afford to continue legal actions to oppose the quarry if the court ruled against us.

This lawsuit attracted considerable coverage by local media including the Press Democrat, the Petaluma Argus Courier, the online Petaluma Patch, and the west county Bohemian, primarily because the extent of Barella's role with Basin Street was divulged, including that he had used the quarry property as collateral for a major loan to the corporation.

Decision:

Filed March 2011   Denial of Motion to Disqualify Morgan Lewis

Still Fighting the County's "Interpretation" of a Tax-paid Conservation Easement Benefitting Developer

Expect Hearing to be Held Spring/Summer 2012

On January 13, 2011, CARRQ and local ranchers with conservation easements, Joe and Kathy Tresch and Ken and Nancy Mazzetta, filed suit against the County of Sonoma, the County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors, and County of Sonoma Permit Resources and Management over the approval of the open space mitigation preserve on publicly protected Roblar Ranch.  We challenged that, as part of the quarry approval, the mitigation of endangered species protection on public land is required to have undergone an EIR study under CEQA guidelines.

Superior Court Judge Elliott Daum denied CARRQ's motion August 16, 2011  without a hearing.  We have appealed his decision and expect a hearing in the State Appellate Court sometime in the spring/summer of 2012.

Motions Filed:

Filed January 13, 2011  Writ of Mandate

Filed January 26, 2012. Appeal filed in State Appellate District, Division Four,  from Judgment entered Aug. 16, 2011, Superior Court Sonoma County, Hon. Elliot Daum

Filed April 16, 2012   Appellant's Reply Brief, California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Four

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