Two land-use lawsuits TKO’d
Mega-developer Tom Fogarty and the Butte Environmental Council (BEC) have something in common: Each recently had a lawsuit thrown out on a technicality.

Fogarty is the principal developer behind the 1,300-unit Oak Valley Subdivision off Highway 32 and Bruce Road. On Monday, March 12, the 3rd District Court of Appeals threw out his $17 million suit against the city of Chico challenging last-minute changes in his project.

A Butte County judge earlier had thrown out the suit on a technicality—Fogarty didn’t file it in time—and the appeals court upheld that ruling.

More recently, on Tuesday (March 20), the Butte County Superior Court gave a tentative ruling upholding the Butte County Association of Government’s petition to dismiss BEC’s lawsuit challenging its environmental assessment (EA) of a vernal-pool mitigation project associated with the huge Highway 149 project.

BCAG had discovered that the EA wasn’t even a required document and so the lawsuit was moot. The court agreed. “They pulled a fast one on us,” BEC Executive Director Barbara Vlamis said, without anger. BEC and BCAG are working cooperatively on a big habitat-conservation plan for the county.

Faculty vote OKs strike
On what it called an historic day, the California Faculty Association announced Wednesday (March 21) it was given the go-ahead by voting members to authorize a strike at all 23 California State University campuses.

According to the union, which represents about 23,000 faculty members, librarians, counselors and coaches, the vote (94 percent) could result in the largest strike in higher education in the history of the United States.

The move comes after 23 months of failed negotiations between the CFA and CSU over a proposed salary increase. While the CSU claims it’s offering a 24 percent raise, union representatives contend much of the offer is contingent on state funding and administrative discretion—making the actual increase fall far short.

“We are a faculty that’s fed up, and a faculty that’s ready to walk off the job,” said John Travis, the union’s president.

A series of two-day rolling strikes, running over a period of several weeks, should be expected as early as April on some campuses, though specifics have not been set out.

A tower too many
One cell tower site in northeast Chico is enough, the Chico Planning Commission decided Thursday, March 15, voting 4-3 to approve a motion of intent to deny Nextel authority to construct a tower on Elks Lodge property adjoining Lindo Channel just west of Manzanita Avenue.

The City Council already has approved a tower site at the nearby Hooker Oak Recreation Area, but it faces a legal challenge. The commission majority acknowledged that fact but thought the suit was unlikely to prevail.

The Nextel tower would have been 84 feet high and more-or-less camouflaged as a pine (pictured). Various speakers, including representatives of wireless companies, spoke of the need for better cell phone coverage in the area, but nearby residents expressed fear of being too close to the tower. City ordinance allows denial of towers that are closer than 500 feet to houses, which this one would have been.