"We're delighted by the Cinnabar ruling," said Katherine Evatt, Co-President of the Foothill Conservancy. "It reaffirms our faith in the legal system and shows that counties and powerful developers are not above the law. And it's great news for the neighboring ranchers whose operations were threatened by the project."
On March 9, 1999, the state's 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of those seeking to overturn El Dorado County's 1994 approval of the Cinnabar project, a 566-unit subdivision proposed for the southernmost part of the county along the Amador County line. In reversing an earlier trial court decision, the three-justice panel unanimously agreed with the plaintiffs - residents group the FUTURE (Families Unafraid to Uphold Rural El Dorado), the City of Plymouth, and the Foothill Conservancy - that the project was inconsistent with El Dorado County's general plan and that its approval violated the California Environmental Quality Act.
The plaintiffs were concerned that the project would adversely affect local ranching operations and create heavy traffic on Highway 49 in El Dorado and into and beyond the City of Plymouth. They were also concerned that using wells to supply water for 566 houses would threaten water availability for others in the area and that the project would strain local services. "This was the first time the Foothill Conservancy has ever been involved in litigation," said Evatt. "We prefer to resolve issues outside the courts.
"But in approving this project, El Dorado County blatantly ignored its own planning staff, its own agricultural commission, neighbors' concerns, and potential effects on the City of Plymouth and our county. We're really glad to see that the courts will uphold the state's environmental and land use laws when local officials fail to act in the public interest."