Lawsuit claims county general plan blocks development

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The areas outlined in yellow are special study areas included in the draft general plan update. Supervisors are planning a special meeting to discuss whether the designation should be removed from the general plan.

A landowner has sued the county over a policy in the newly approved general plan that could prevent the party from developing due to a nearby agricultural industrial facility, according to a lawsuit filed at the San Benito County Courthouse.
A party called Rancho Gavilan filed suit last month alleging an unconstitutional taking of property against San Benito County and its supervisors for their July adoption of a 2035 general plan, which had been mapped out through community input since 2009 and involved eight years of total planning.
Supervisors are set to consider their next steps on the legal matter at their 9 a.m. Tuesday meeting at the County Administration Building, 481 Fourth St. Neither County Board Chairwoman Margie Barrios nor Planning Director Byron Turner could be reached immediately. In court records, the next hearing in the litigation is a case management conference set for Feb. 10.
The petitioner claims that it owns 2,777 acres in the northwest part of the county near the Santa Clara County border. Rancho Gavilan contends its agriculturally zoned property is located in an area designated by the general plan as falling within a “New Community Study Area” for development potential, but that the county document also precludes development on the site due to another policy.
Rancho Gavilan in the suit contends the county late in the general plan process—for the first time in May—started considering a “Non-Development Buffer Zone” designation that affects Rancho Gavilan properties. The petitioner claims Rancho Gavilan interests were never notified of the change and found out after the general plan adoption.
The lawsuit alleges that the policy came after TriCal Inc., a distributor and applicator of agricultural chemicals located at 8770 Highway 25, requested the buffer zone. That buffer zone, according to the suit, covers a radius of 2.5 miles around any bulk-scale facilities handling agricultural contaminants such as those at TriCal.
The petitioner in the suit notes how the land has poor soil and is unsuitable for agriculture. Rancho Gavilan could otherwise build 500 housing units on the property, which borders the area near Highways 101 and 25, according to the lawsuit.
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