September 14, 2012
The Fort Ord Reuse Authority may be facing yet another lawsuit.
A letter hand-delivered by attorney Alexander Henson to the FORA board yesterday sets the stage for a lawsuit by Veterans Wild Fort Ord and its frontman, veteran and conservationist Gordon Smith (pictured above).
At issue is FORA's imminent plan to clear-cut 12 acres of the Parker Flats area, in the proposed blueprint for the controversial Monterey Downs development. Henson alleges FORA's remediation method—clearcutting and leveling the land—is not permitted under the Fort Ord Base Reuse Plan. Because the area is currently zoned as open space, and not for building, Henson suggests the scorched-earth method of munitions clearing is unnecessary and illegal.
He adds that the city of Seaside may be responsible for proposing to clear the land for the highest possible level of development, an argument he also made before the Seaside City Council last Monday.
Building on that particular land area, Henson alleges, is precluded by a 2009 land swap in which officials allowed the development of East Garrison—which contained endangered species—in exchange for protecting parts of Parker Flats that could support endangered species. So moving forward with land clearing in preparation for development violates state endangered species and environmental laws, Henson alleges.
He frames the letter as a last-ditch effort to avert a lawsuit, giving FORA a chance to take action—and halt the clearcutting—before having to explain it to the judge. He asks FORA to respond by a Sept. 20 public outreach meeting.
FORA is also facing litigation on several other issues—the planned Eastside Parkway and disclosure of public records related to FORA spending—from Keep Fort Ord Wild.
The authority, in turn, is suing Arcadis, its contractor for the massive cleanup of the former Army base.