Friday, March 16, 2007

Delay Was Proper

Delay Was Proper
City Right to Give Lagoon Valley More Time

While challenges to long-standing plans to develop a small portion of Lagoon Valley crawl through the court system, Vacaville City Council reasonably decided to suspend time limits on its progress.

Plans by Triad Communities to build a small housing community, a firehouse, a golf course and job-generating office complex tucked into the eastern valley have been held up by legal challenges from a small, but persistent, group of independent detractors.

Also being held up are $4 million or more in improvements to Lagoon Valley Park, a regional recreational area that is underused because of its many problems, including a lake in need of a massive cleanup.

Undaunted by overwhelming support given the project by the city Planning Commission, the City Council, the Greenbelt Alliance and many members of the Solano County Orderly Growth Committee, the so-called Friends of Lagoon Valley are using typical legal maneuvers to stall the project.

Other court decisions have gone against their claims that the environmental review was inadequate, or that the project's negative impact on the valley can be mitigated. In fact, the project will have several positive results, not just economically, but also environmentally.

None of that matters, however, to the Friends of Lagoon Valley. They wish only to manipulate the legal appeal process, most likely in hopes the developer will find climbing legal costs a burden. But we believe the investment made by Triad Communities is such that they will stay.

So the city was only being fair by suspending the time limits placed on the developer. The ticking clock should be stopped while the courts - slow as they are - consider the appeal. We have every expectation that the higher courts, like the lower ones, will find the assertions in the legal appeals unsubstantiated.

The current differences of opinions over whether a slice of Lagoon Valley should be home to houses, a golf course and a new jobs center ignore the course of history. More than a decade ago, it was decided that the north valley and Cherry Glen should be preserved, not the lower valley.

The time has long passed to debate that issue.

The city's growth plan for many years has earmarked a portion of the lower valley floor for modest, high-quality and unique development.

And that plan has been reinforced and endorsed by city leaders, recreation advocates and environmentalists.

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