Lack of fee results in suit

June 24, 2003 11:00 pm

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

An organization representing about 25 Calaveras County residents is suing county supervisors for not having a road impact mitigation fee in place.

The lawsuit, filed in Calaveras County Superior Court on behalf of Concerned Citizens of Calaveras County, also demands a ban on further development until such fees are collected.

A case management conference will be held at the county courthouse in San Andreas at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 22.

Road impact mitigation fees — often referred to as RIM fees — are collected for each new house built in a city or county. They pay for road expansion, such as adding lanes or turnouts, or for building new roads. They're not used for road repairs.

Members of Concerned Citizens of Calaveras County say RIM fees should have been in place long ago.

In its suit, the organization says its members are "suffering from the increasing traffic throughout the county." It also claims that no money has been set aside for roads, despite the county's constantly growing population.

Philip Cain of Burson, a member of Concerned Citizens of Calaveras County who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said more than 20,000 people have moved to the county since 1986.

Cain, 82, said the population jump has put many more vehicles on county roads, yet no fee has been enacted.

Looking ahead to development in Valley Springs and in Copperopolis — including the proposed 2,275-house Oak Canyon Ranch in Copperopolis — Cain said developers should pay for the impact their projects have on local roads.

That's why the lawsuit asks for the ban on development until a fee is approved. The plaintiffs also want the county to reimburse them for court and attorney fees.

"If you want the future of the county to progress forward and develop industry, then we have to have money to develop our roads," Cain said.

Burson resident Joyce Techel, whose name is also on the suit and is also a member of Concerned Citizens of Calaveras County, said this lawsuit isn't about stopping growth.