Climate change, and species extinction, all seem so distant from our ability to control and yet all these changes begin locally, and what each of us does matters.
Clinton’s leadership has created a Comprehensive Plan for the development of our community through 2032, in which they state under the heading, Housing Development that Respects the Natural Environment, “The City of Clinton has topography that provides physical features including slopes and floodplain. Environmental regulations strive to protect these features as distinct benefits for 'quality of life.' Any housing developments that may be considered must be designed in a manner to preserve and protect natural features and preserve ag land to the extent possible. Also, the city should be committed to preserving the existing character of the estate area through less intensive land development.”
Unfortunately in the real world, our governing bodies appear to have few tools to ensure this vision for our future is followed, and those that we do have aren’t utilized. While a property owner in Clinton has the right to cut any trees they wish on their property, city ordinances require the preservation of trees in new developments unless they require removal for the placement of specific improvements.
When asked what GPS positioning devices or surveyors' assistance was being utilized in conjunction with the tree removal crew to ensure ordinances are adhered to, Clinton City Attorney O’Connell interjected that it was not the intent of the ordinance to inhibit the construction of new developments. Whereas the United State Supreme Court regularly debates the intent of the founding framers of our Constitution, the rest of us must adhere to the language of the laws.
The developers of the proposed Riverstone Crossing have decimated the once beautiful and fragile ecosystem at the heart of our city in direct violation of our ordinance. There is a process for the authority to build such a development, including approval of the City Engineer, the City Planning Commission and the City Council prior to such developments being started.
When the developer submitted plans for a new subdivision, he was obligated to follow the Tree Preservation Ordinance and the steps necessary for the authority to begin the development, before work was begun. Despite his protests of being mischaracterized, the apparent blatant, reckless, and obscene disregard for the ordinances of our community, the concern of neighbors, and preservation of what was once a pristine ecosystem, speak for themselves.
The topography of the area isn’t conducive to development, and the demographics of our city won’t support the successful development of this proposal. Bondholders may well be forced to complete the improvements while the city will be left to address the erosion issues of a failed subdivision. An immediate injunction should be sought to stop the further unauthorized destruction and a moratorium as provided for in Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency until the community’s vision for development is thoroughly followed and the community reaches a decision.