HSRA Home‎ > ‎

Settlement Reached on TPZ Ordinance

posted May 9, 2012, 5:12 PM by Stevee Duber

         A settlement has been agreed upon in the case brought by the High Sierra Rural Alliance challenging Sierra County’s adoption of a Timber Production Zone Ordinance. The Ordinance adopted in December 2010 authorizes development of large acre residential estates on TPZ parcels. The HSRA argued the action had the potential for significant environmental impacts and thus the County’s approval using the “common sense exemption” was inappropriate under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The settlement includes a court order prohibiting approval or issuance of a building permit for any new residences on lands zoned TPZ until the County adopts a new land use policy for TPZ lands, or a new TPZ ordinance. 

        HSRA spokesperson, Stevee Duber expressed satisfaction with the settlement:

“The injunction ensures that before any residences are built on TPZ lands, the County will have to prove to the public that the potential impacts of doing so will be mitigated without being a burden on taxpayers.
         “In adopting the General Plan, the County found that the proposed land use pattern of rural clusters effectively mitigates the significant environmental impacts of development in the County. Clustering minimizes fire hazard; discourages inefficient vehicle use; prevents growth inducement along transportation corridors inconsistent with existing land use patterns; allows orderly and cost effective extension of public facilities and services; prevents conversion of timber producing lands to other uses; protects habitat and species diversity; reduces the potential for conflicts resulting from residential development on timber management.
         “Lands zoned TPZ are afforded generous tax benefits in exchange for the being limited to timber production enhancing uses. If residences are allowed on remote TPZ parcels, the property taxes paid by the parcel owners will not cover the cost of extending police and fire protection to them for example. Permit fees will not cover the cost of sending building inspectors to remote locations. In the end the residents of existing communities would end up subsidizing the cost of providing services to new residences on TPZ parcels and/or see a reduction in services to existing communities.”

         Michael Graf, attorney for the plaintiff, added, "there are real impacts from allowing persons to build large residential estates on lands supposedly intended for timber production. This settlement should ensure that the necessary environmental review occurs before there is a conversion of use.."