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How to approach development and community trails, and news of a violation of drinking-water standards, were among the topics discussed at February's Community Services District board meeting, held Feb. 15.

CSD doesn't agree with developer claims on trails

The board reacted to a letter from the North developers regarding standards for building trails in the community. The letter, by attorney Kevin M. Kemper of Phillips Land Law, argues that the community’s Parks Committee, of which CSD is a member, isn’t empowered to write new trails standards and map out the trails.

The letter, which you can download here, says the community’s three Park Development Agreements require “that the developer is to provide a system of pedestrian and bike trails within each subdivision, as development progresses. Exhibit E to the (agreements) conceptually describes the ‘approximate locations’ for pedestrian and bicycle trails within Rancho Murieta.”

It argues that nowhere in the parks agreements is the Parks Committee given the authority to develop standards for trails; that would require an amendment, the letter says, which would require agreement from all parties, including the landowners.

“This pretty well lays out one side’s interpretation of who’s going to decide what kind of trails we have, where they go, and who will be the final say,” Director John Merchant said. “And, you know, there may be another opinion. And if there is no agreement on that opinion, there’ll probably need to be an alternative course of action.” 

Merchant, one of the leaders of the Saving Our Lakes & Open Spaces group, said he wants to answer the letter, and he suggested the response might be a collaboration with the Rancho Murieta Association, or possibly in a petition to the county with a thousand signatures of residents, or maybe both.

The RMA and current North developers have disagreed over the trails plan for the community. The RMA says it’s expressed in Exhibit E, while developers on the Parks Committee, led by development representative John Sullivan, have argued that Exhibit E is only conceptual.

Director Mark Pecotich, the board’s president and its representative to the Park Committee, said even though Exhibit E has been in play for decades, it’s still missing trails that have to be included. “Until all that’s on there, I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” he said. Pecotich has been involved in the past with the group that oversees a dozen miles of trails built by volunteers on land now owned by the North developers.

After Merchant referred to the Parks Committee as “five seats – three of which are occupied by residents,” development representative Sullivan came to the podium to say he’s a Murietan sitting on the Parks Committee too, “and I’ve been here longer than all you guys.”

“You need to look at the letter in light of the word ‘landowner’ and not in the word of ‘Park Committee,’” Sullivan said. “And you have to understand that landowner definitions and landowner rights are different than Park Committee rights and votes.”

The bottom line, which he has expressed in previous meetings: “You all need to understand that Exhibit E is conceptual, and that Exhibit E has proposed trails and has actual trails.”

He said the developers have tried unsuccessfully to get the RMA to discuss the issue and get it addressed. 

“This isn’t saying no; this is saying please respect the landowner rights that are in the agreement,” Sullivan said.

The CSD’s lawyer, Richard Shanahan, suggested the board send back a brief letter for the record saying it doesn’t agree with the claims in the developers’ letter.

Merchant said he wants the issue addressed promptly so the CSD doesn’t wind up reacting to the initial environmental impact report from a defensive position.

Later in the meeting, Merchant suggested that CSD should get the Parks Committee to look into whether one of the two developer seats on the Parks Committee should go to a development company other than Sullivan’s. At present, Sullivan’s company occupies two seats. CSD has one seat and the RMA has two.

Previous coverage:

Testing finds water quality violation

Routine testing of the community’s drinking water found it exceeded state standards in one testing period by 1 part per billion for byproducts of the disinfection process, Paul Siebensohn, the director of field operations, told the board. He said CSD staff made operational changes, and subsequent tests have yielded much better results – 20 parts per billion under the threshold.

He identified the offending substance as total trihalomethane, which he explained is an occasional byproduct of water disinfection with chlorine.  The substance is a carcinogen. “It’s not an acute water quality concern,” he told the board. “It’s a potential to be a concern if ingested at high volumes over a long period of time,” which is what the Environmental Protection Agency says as well.

Siebensohn said the biggest concern with such substances is at the farthest points in the water distribution system, where the water ages, so the CSD gathers its testing samples four times a year at the district warehouse, which is behind the CSD Building, and at the end of Cantova Way.

Siebensohn said he expects this violation will require a public notification within 30 days. In an interview Tuesday, Siebensohn said he has been unable to take the first steps in this notification process because the state Division of Drinking Water liaison on the issue has been on National Guard duty in Oroville.

Final payment closes out water plant project

The board voted unanimously to close out its water-treatment plant project by paying an extra $49,356 to Roebbelen Construction, which managed the project for CSD.

GE Water & Process Technologies, which provided equipment and services for the project, had asked Roebbelen to pay another $110,713 last August, citing extra work caused by delays and change of scope. Roebbelen said it negotiated the request down to $49,356. The CSD will bear about $20,000 of the cost and developers the rest, according to CSD General Manager Darlene Thiel.

Thiel set the final project cost at $13.1 million, with CSD paying one-third and the rest coming from past and present developers. Work started in 2014, and the plant was dedicated last spring.

Previous coverage:

Security delivers annual report

Security Chief Paul Wagner delivered the department’s report on 2016 operations. His department, which he joined last July, has eight full-time, one part-time and one temporary gate officers and five patrol officers and one patrol sergeant.

There were no large spikes in the numbers.  Download the full report by clicking here. Citations for speeding and stop-sign violations were off (speeding citations fell 44 percent, from 51 to 29, and stop-sign citations were off 37 percent, from 139 to 88), even as the Rancho Murieta Association is making a repeated effort to raise awareness of the violations and threatening action against unsafe drivers.

In other business...

  • The board unanimously approved increasing General Manager Darlene Thiel’s 2017 pay by 3.5 percent, to $171,400. The board did not extend the incentive program it offered her last year, when she won a $5,000 bonus for delivering a budget with no rate increase for customers.
  • The board voted unanimously to hire an operator in training to back up staffing situations and reduce overtime costs in the district’s water plants. Overtime savings would pay most of the $40,000 to $50,000 annual salary for the position, according to a memo from Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations. The position will be added to the current year’s budget.
  • The district will hold a special budget review meeting 5 to 7 p.m. March 2.

Al Dolata's picture
Joined: 08/09/2007
Posts: 94
Post rating: 129

Questions about trails

Did the "volunteers" who built dozens of miles of trails on land now owned by the developers (and others, btw), have permission to build those trails?  What is the authority of "the organization which oversees" these trails?

Al Dolata

RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27727
Post rating: 1387

Trail information

Approximate answers to Al Dolata's questions can be found at the link included in the story. Or you can click here.

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