City sued over Arcata Ridge Trail routing

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – A group of residents who live near Fickle Hill Road are suing the City of Arcata over the planned route of the Arcata Ridge Trail. The plaintiffs allege that the planned installation of the trail near their “Spring Complex” well could put their water supply at risk.

The planned crossing at Fickle Hill Road, connecting the Sunny Brae Tract to the south with the original Arcata Community Forest to the north. City of Arcata map

They further allege, in what City Attorney Nancy Diamond termed a “kitchen sink” approach, that the city is creating the trail without a plan, that the project violates the city’s own policies as well as the Clean Water Act and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), that the project violates the terms of its funding, that the city has failed to inform and work with neighbors on the project, and that placement of the trail in the area just south of Fickle Hill Road may create erosion, put their water supply at risk, create a nuisance and harm residents’ health.

In its response, the City of Arcata holds that the plaintiffs failed to establish any potential for harm to their water supply, that proper analyses are in progress, that proper permits have been obtained, that the city is following its land use plans and policies, that the trail will reduce trespassing and improve safety, and more.

Visiting Judge James la Porte granted the neighbors a Temporary Restraining Order halting further work on the trail. On Aug. 23, a joint stipulation was agreed to between the city and the plaintiffs extending the TRO until a CEQA determination is made, and requiring that “No Trespassing” signs will be posted on the nascent trail link, and that fencing agreeable to the plaintiffs will be installed.

The CEQA finding will be made based on a consultant’s report and a noticed public hearing.

“I have engaged Supervisor Madrone to help us with the safety issues of putting so many trail users on Fickle Hill Road, said I have engaged Supervisor Madrone to help us with the safety issues of putting so many trail users on Fickle Hill Road,” said co-plaintiff Uri Driscoll. “Mr. Wilson doesn’t seem interested anymore.”

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“The current trail work includes completing CEQA review on the trail alignment that has resulted from a series of public meetings [and] we are also designing the Fickle Hill Road crossing,” said City Manager Karen Diemer. “It is important to our community to join the Sunny Brae portion of the community forest with the main acreage of the forest and the city will remain committed to completing this trail. We still believe that this is a suitable connection point but we will have to render a final decision when the engineering and environmental analysis is complete.”

Petitioners and plaintiffs in the case are Francis Daniel Driscoll a.k.a. Uri Driscoll; Christine Maria Driscoll; Peter Hoey; Silvia Chevrier; Merwin Albert Russell, a.k.a. Russell Jones, trustee of the Russell and Lynn Jones Family Trust; Lynn M. Jones, trustee of the Russell and Lynn Jones Family Trust; George Schmidbauer, trustee of the Schmidbauer Family Trust; Mary Schmidbauer, trustee of the Schmidbauer Family Trust; and Alice A. Sturges, trustee of the 1986 Alice A. Sturges Family Trust.

Respondents and defendants are the City of Arcata; Arcata Environmental Services Dept.; Karen Diemer, Arcata city manager; Mark Andre, director of the Environmental Services Dept; and Does 1-50.

 

 







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