Tiburon seeks to join suit against 43-home plan
Author: Adrian Rodriguez
Publication: Marin Independent Journal
The town of Tiburon is aiming to join a lawsuit against the county of Marin challenging the approval of a 43-home development on the peninsula.
Tiburon Town Attorney Ben Stock filed a motion of intervention last week in Marin County Superior Court against the certification of the Martha Co.’s environmental impact report and approval of a revised master plan of the 110-acre project.
In an email, Tiburon Town Manager Greg Chanis said the town is getting involved “in order for the town to protect its citizens from potential adverse effects that may result from developing the Martha property.”
“In particular, the town is concerned with the potential traffic impacts the project will have on the town, the loss of critical habitat for flora and fauna that currently inhabit the undeveloped property, proceeding without full analysis of potential fire impacts, and potential land subsidence issues that could result from developing on a property that has a history of landslides,” he wrote. “The town seeks to intervene in order for its voice to be heard on these critical issues confronting the community.”
A hearing is scheduled July 25 for the court to decide whether the town can intervene, Stock said.
“The town’s concerns are articulated in our petition and we look forward to having those concerns addressed in court,” Stock said.
The initial lawsuit was filed in November by the Tiburon Open Space Committee and resident Jerry Riessen, head of the committee. It challenges the Marin County Board of Supervisors’ action to certify the environmental impact report the month prior.
In the suit, the plaintiffs allege the Board of Supervisors and the county of Marin violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving an inadequate EIR.
The supervisors, bowing to a court order, voted 3-2 to approve the report and a revised master plan. The board, however, denied Martha Co.’s request for approval of a tentative map and development plan for the project, because its previously submitted precise plan has not yet been modified to reflect changes in the revised master plan. As a result, many details about what the project will look like — lot sizes, residential unit heights, house sizes — remain undetermined. The 2007 court judgment specifies that the lots must be at least half an acre.
Initially after the stipulated judgment, the Board of Supervisors refused to certify the project’s final environmental impact report, although it had a 14-month period to so. The board said the project lacked adequate access to water for firefighting and that the Martha Co. was seeking to locate a 180,000-gallon water storage tank at an elevation the Marin Municipal Water District would not approve.
The board also objected to Martha Co.’s proposal to compensate for negative impacts on threatened and endangered species by purchasing a conservation easement elsewhere.
The Martha Co. has filed a motion in federal court to obtain these previously court-ordered entitlements that the board denied in October, said Paul Smith, the Martha Co.’s attorney and a former Tiburon mayor.
The group is awaiting a ruling on that, Smith said. But regarding the case against the county, he declined to comment because he is not involved in the suit.
In response to the lawsuit filed by the Tiburon Open Space Committee, Marin County Counsel Brian Washington said, “We disagree with the petition and believe that the county complied with CEQA in certifying the Martha Co. EIR.”
With regards to the intervention attempt by the town of Tiburon, Washington said Thursday: “We just received the petition. We will review and determine our response.”
Riessen praised the town of Tiburon for taking action to block “the severe environmental impacts that would result from the proposed Martha project.”
Riessen said the mitigations proposed to offset environmental impacts to biological resources and traffic in the final EIR are inadequate.
“Most importantly, the mitigations do nothing to address the risk of a severe fire like the one recently experienced by our neighbors in Sonoma County,” he said. “The project must be modified to properly mitigate the biology and safety concerns and we applaud Tiburon’s intervention to protect its residents.”if we have to accept Section 8 tenants, well, Section 8 won’t come out and help.”
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