Elk Grove Citizen
By Lance Armstrong
Citizen Staff Writer
Four Elk Grove residents claimed that city officials mishandled the process of allowing land to be rezoned for Wilton Rancheria’s proposed casino-resort.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang early this month dismissed their legal challenge and ruled the city did no foul.
Joe Teixeira, Patty Johnson, Omar Ahmed Jr., Xin Guo and Carolyn Soares were the plaintiffs in the suit.
The lawsuit focuses on the property proposed for a tribal casino-resort of the Wilton Rancheria at Highway 99 and Kammerer Road.
Addressed in the ruling were several “causes of actions,” all of which failed to result in actions against the city.
Elk Grove City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs commented on the court ruling.
“We’re obviously pleased because it’s what we were seeking in our motion to have the case dismissed, and the judge granted our motion,” he said. “So, that’s a positive result for the city.”
As for the lawsuit itself, the first of the causes of actions alleged that the city “breached” its zoning ordinance by “not rezoning the (casino-resort) property to permit a planned hotel/casino.”
It is stated in the ruling that the petitioners failed to explain how the city is legally responsible to comply with its zoning ordinance, or take further action once the land was placed into federal trust for the casino. Once that land was placed into federal trust, the city no longer had jurisdiction on the property.
Chang also ruled that the petitioners failed to prove that the city breached a development agreement to allow the property’s use as a casino-resort.
The petitioners also desired to compel the city to reinstate the mitigation, monitoring and reporting program, which was required by the Environmental Impact Report on the property. However, the ruling notes that the petitioners alleged no California Environmental Quality Act violation, and that the cause of action failed to state facts resulting in a cause of action.
Chang also dismissed the allegation that city officials avoided notifying the public about the proposal to rezone the land for the casino project.
Hobbs stated that, although the Aug. 1 ruling is the final ruling, Chang will also make a formal judgment.
“There will be a formal judgment that will be entered probably in the next couple of weeks, but this is the ruling in advance of that, and then the judge will issue a formal order of dismissal,” he said.
Brigit Barnes, the attorney representing the petitioners, said that she plans on appealing the case.
“I’m still in the process of evaluating (Chang’s) ruling, and in fact, I’m going to be asking for some clarification on some of those points,” she said. “But you should expect that we are going to be appealing (the case).”