Judge Nelson Brooks sent the Friends of Historical Hangtown a Valentine when he issued a writ of mandate to stop the Clay Street/Cedar Ravine Realignment and Clay Street at Hangtown Creek Replacement Project.
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Approvals for the city of Placerville project, often referred to as the “Roundabout Project” because of a proposed roundabout at the four-legged intersection at Main Street, Clay Street and Cedar Ravine Road, which was one of the project’s components, were challenged by the Friends of Historical Hangtown who were represented by attorney Rachel Mansfield-Howlett.
The project combines a number of different components to mitigate traffic and air quality impacts in downtown Placerville and included the realignment of Clay Street with Cedar Ravine, the replacement of the Clay Street Bridge at Hangtown Creek, the widening of Clay Street, the roundabout intersection and the extension of the El Dorado Trail from Clay Street to Bedford Avenue.
In September 2011, Judge Brooks ruled the project’s Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration to be too inadequate and incomplete to continue.
City Attorney John Driscoll filed a brief requesting identification of the specific issues to be addressed with regard to the environmental document.
On Feb.14, Judge Brooks granted the petition, which sets aside and vacates the project approvals and the Mitigated Negative Declaration until an environmental impact report addressing potential impacts on parking, traffic, urban decay, biology, cultural resources, toxicity, aesthetics, growth inducement and consistency with area plans and policies can be completed.
City Manager Cleve Morris said he had been apprised of the ruling. “We will be determining the options with City Council and reviewing them in closed session. Then the council will make a decision about the next step.”
Public concern against the proposed roundabout was vociferous at numerous community outreach meetings conducted from 2007-2011 and written protests against the roundabout were also received.
“The potential impacts were so serious, the city should have done a new EIR,” said Sharlene McCaslin of Friends of Historical Hangtown.
That will mean the roundabout won’t be built in the near future, but it will also mean that the extension to the El Dorado Trail from Clay Street to Bedford, which the city was prepared to begin, will not be completed either, until the city completes an EIR for it.
“There aren’t so many impacts from the construction of the trail, ” said McCaslin. “The city should have listened to the public.The written public comments and public comments received at the meetings created a “fair argument” that influenced the court.
“I hope the city doesn’t waste more money on a project the public doesn’t want after wasting money on litigation for a project that the public didn’t want,” said McCaslin. “Hopefully the Neighborhood Chats and conversations with the council members will let them know what their constituants want.”