Despite criticism, county OKs Red Tail

Written by Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat January 23, 2013 07:43 am

An agreement to allow the Red Tail Ridge subdivision, just east of Sonora, to move forward was criticized by a Tuolumne County supervisor on Tuesday.

District 5 Board of Supervisors representative Karl Rodefer said the settlement agreement between developer SDS Ventures and residents of the nearby Quail Ridge Ranch “disturbs” him before the board voted 4-0 to accept it.

 

Rodefer, who said he backed the agreement because all parties negotiated and accepted it, still criticized the fact that Red Tail Ridge property owners will be paying for future road repairs in Quail Ridge as part of the settlement. The agreement includes a stipulation that the Red Tail developer cover repairs for sections of High Meadow Drive in both subdivisions.

“We pay all kinds of taxes … that are designed to make our roads accessible to everyone,” Rodefer said. “I don’t like this.”

Quail Ridge residents sued the county and developer over the Red Tail proposal in September 2011 over environmental concerns. The lawsuit alleged the county should have required a more detailed environmental review process for the development, which will divide 542 acres between Lyons Bald Mountain Road and Cabezut Road, outside Sonora, into 46 residential lots ranging from 10 acres to 55 acres. The lawsuit cited concerns over traffic and environmental impacts.

The settlement also requires the builders to change the proposed extension of Meadow Drive to a smaller, windier connection between Lyons Bald Mountain and Cabezut roads instead of the original, straighter route.

SDS ventures has also agreed to install an improved pedestrian route on the Quail Ridge side of the development, pay $23,500 in legal fees and pay $2,000 to the Quail Ridge Ranch Homeowners Association for every lot sold.

Carlyn Drivdahl, an attorney with the Office of the County Counsel, said the other two parties have already agreed to the terms of the settlement.

This is the second settlement over county land-use decisions to be criticized by members of the board in recent months. Supervisor Randy Hanvelt, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, called the lawsuit over the Cooperstown Quarry project “extortion” before the board approved it in September. Former supervisor Dick Pland also criticized that settlement.

The city of Riverbank and environmental groups sued over that project, citing railroad traffic and environmental concerns. All involved parties came to an agreement that involved the quarry paying millions of dollars for its impacts.

In other news, the Board of Supervisors:

• Increased the fee per space to cover the county’s mobilehome rent control program to $30. The fee was $22 per space, with the on-year increase going to pay for a county-wide survey of mobile home users in the program, according to the Community Resources Agency.

There are currently 798 mobile home spaces under rent control. The increase will mean $4 more this year covered by the tenant.

• Discussed in closed session a proposal to turn over ownership of Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne County. The 240-acre mountain camp and resort in the Stanislaus National Forest belongs to PG&E, and its transfer will be part of a major 2001 bankruptcy settlement requiring the utility company to turn over watershed lands around the state for preservation.

• Added a full-time sergeant to handle some administrative duties for the sheriff-coroner’s office and eliminated a vacant detective position in the Tuolumne Narcotics Team.

• Approved its annual goals for 2013, as well as approved an update of the county’s five-year plan.