Peter Byrne, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN
Evan’s final and fatal argument was that the deal is invalid because the county sold the land to Gallaher based on his proposal to develop nearly a thousand homes in a forested, riparian area riffling with wildlife without doing an environmental review of the impacts.
Less than a week after the conclusion of a three-hour trial to decide the fate of a deal to develop housing on county-owned acreage surrounding an abandoned public hospital complex called Chanate, a superior court judge has issued a deal-breaking decision.
On Thursday, Judge René Auguste Chouteau issued a ruling that the Sonoma County Board of Supervisor’s approval last year of an agreement to develop Chanate with developer William Gallaher must be “vacated.” The controversial deal cannot go forward as planned.
A lawsuit filed by the 200-member grassroots organization Friends of Chanate called for the development agreement to be overturned on several counts. Chouteau agreed with only one of the counts, but that was enough to send it back to the board of supervisors for the indefinite future. The deal can only be revived if the county and the developer conduct an environmental review of proposed project, which is a lengthy, expensive process that doesn’t guarantee the housing and commercial project will be approved.