Turlock Stadium Lawsuit Judgment, Case Not Finished, School District Still Moving Forward

On Monday, March 1, 2010, the Stanislaus County Superior Court has found the Turlock City Council acting as the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Board has appropriately spent RDA funds on the Joe Debely Stadium renovation project.
The Turlock Citizens Coalition (TCC) filed a lawsuit opposing using RDA funds on the stadium project while also stating their belief that the California Environmental Quality Act process was not legally followed.
While the court’s decision has been made, the opposition has the opportunity to amend their case.
“The demur finding was to find no problem with the actions taken by the RDA, which is the City Council,” said Wasden. “The judge’s ruling essentially validates all the action taken by the Redevelopment Agency.”
The Turlock Citizens Coalition’s attorney clarified that his client’s case is not finished but may be even stronger.
“The court was presented with a proposed amended pleading which substantially and significantly revised and expanded the basis for our objections which were not part of the first petition,” said TCC attorney Richard Harriman. “So we’ll be expanding that and filing that within 20 days which will set forth the theory of our case which we think has greater force.”
While the stadium lawsuit continues, the TUSD discussed filing a revised notice of exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the Joe Debely Stadium Modernization Project at Tuesday’s, March 2, 2010, TUSD Board Meeting.
The TCC’s lawsuit alleges that the renovation of the Joe Debely Stadium will bring increased usage and thus would need to go through an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as required by CEQA.
TUSD believes that the renovation does not create any further environmental impacts than those which already occur. If the conditions are found to be existing, the project is exempt from CEQA.
TUSD Facility Planner Roger Smith explained that conditions of many concerns that have been brought up currently exist and will continue whether there’s a renovation to Joe Debely Stadium or not.
Concerns addressed by Smith were Parking, Lights, Noise, Drainage, Mobile Air Pollution, Crime, Vehicle/Pedestrian Safety, Historical Resources, Human Health & Safety, and Failure to Consider Alternatives.
Smith applied reasoning to most of the concerns that they were already existing conditions and that by renovating restrooms and some ADA issues, along with adding artificial turf and track, that the renovation project would not increase or create additional environmental conditions. Smith cited cases and documents to argue other possible non-existing conditions.

Smith stated that adding the artificial turf and track will only increase the amount of use by P.E. students during school classes.

Some neighbors to the stadium did speak up and felt that the environmental conditions would increase.

TCC Attorney Richard Harriman argued that again process was not allowing true determination of these supposed findings by TUSD. Harriman argued that Smith’s report that took over 1 hour to present was just barely available to the public on Friday to review and that the cases or documents cited were not specifically noted for review by others.

Harriman also referred to a letter by Turlock City Councilman citing the possibility for increased use in hours and also special events.

TUSD President Frank Lima felt that most of Harriman’s statements were more appropriate for court and that TUSD shouldn’t or couldn’t respond to most of Harriman’s concerns as they’re in the middle of litigation.
The TUSD Board of Trustess unanimously voted to adopt a resolution to re-confirm and amend the Categorical Exemption from the CEQA for the master plan of Joe Debely Stadium Modernization Project, re-approve the project, and direct the filing of a revised Notice of Exemption for the project.

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