Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lagoon Valley Developer Seeks Wetlands Permit

Lagoon Valley Developer Seeks Wetlands Permit
By Barry Eberling

VACAVILLE - A developer that wants to build more than 1,000 homes in Lagoon Valley is doing more than merely waiting for an appeals court to decide the fate of the project.

Standard Pacific Corp. has applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a needed wetlands permit. People have until June 16 to submit comments to the agency.

Vacaville in 2004 approved the Lagoon Valley project calling for 1,025 homes, a 213-acre golf course designed by former U.S. Open champion Tom Kite and a retail center. It is to be built on 879 acres along Interstate 80 at the city's southern edge, near Lagoon Valley park.

But a group of opponents called Friends of Lagoon Valley sued the city to stop development. The city won in Solano County Superior Court in 2005, but opponents appealed the decision.

There is still no date set for oral arguments in the case, said Marian Conning of Friends of Lagoon Valley and Jack Jarrell of Standard Pacific Corp.

Irvine-based Standard Pacific Corp. is taking over much of the development chores from Seattle-based Triad Communities, which has spearheaded the project.

"We have the legal right to pay some money to Triad, to get all the rights they have," Jarrell said. "When the lawsuit is hopefully successfully concluded (in the city's favor), we'll pay Triad some money and they will not be so heavily involved with the project."

Besides getting the court case resolved, the company needs a permit to alter 11.9 acres that are considered waters under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Of this, 1.5 acres are wetlands, 7 acres are streams, ditches and ponds, and 3.4 acres are a commercial pond and ditch from a valley nursery.

Standard Pacific proposes to create at least 11 acres of new seasonal wetlands and ponds in Lagoon Valley. It also proposes to create 3.4 acres of ponds and drainage areas for stormwater on the golf course.

Friends of Lagoon Valley will ask that the Army Corps delay considering a permit until a watershed study related to area flooding is finished, Conning said.

Conning still hopes Lagoon Valley will remain largely undeveloped. She talked of perhaps a regional park district eventually acquiring the land. Vacaville has targeted the area for development since 1991.

"Once there are a thousand houses there, it changes our options," Conning said. "Delay is our friend in that sense. It gives us time."

Standard Pacific must get not only the Army Corps permit, but related permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state Department of Fish and Game and the state Regional Water Quality Control Board, Jarrell said. The Army Corps coordinates the effort, he said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

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