Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wetlands Ruling

The negotiations, through the courts, continue between the home builders and the environmental organizations about what type of open space will be included within the community being built.

Wetlands ruling rattles Sunrise Douglas plans
By Mary Lynne Vellinga - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, July 14, 2007

A federal judge has ordered builders in much of Rancho Cordova's massive Sunrise Douglas development to stop plowing under wetlands -- a move that creates uncertainty about the ongoing construction in eastern Sacramento County.

U.S. District Court Judge Martin J. Jenkins on Tuesday issued the preliminary injunction in favor of the California Native Plant Society.

The society had sued the federal agencies that granted permits to fill the wetlands. Jenkins suspended the permits of seven separate developments within Sunrise Douglas until the case can be decided.

Jenkins ordered builders to cease and desist "any further construction, groundbreaking, earthmoving or other on-the-ground activity that may affect vernal pool habitat or endangered or threatened species."

A variety of large home builders are currently doing projects in the area affected by the ruling. They include Lennar Communities, KB Home, Woodside Homes, Pulte Homes, Beazer Homes and Cresleigh Homes, among others.

In his ruling, Jenkins said there was a lack of evidence that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took a "hard look" at the environmental impacts of the development projects before issuing the permits.

It's unclear, however, what practical effect the ruling will have on construction activity in the Sunrise Douglas area, where about 2,000 houses already have been built.