See the RMA letter here
The Rancho Murieta Association is asking the county to force developers to clarify documentation, discovered in the last two weeks, that seems to say most of the undeveloped land in Murieta North was annexed to the RMA in 1980.
The finding could snarl development proposals that were within days of almost certain approval by the county.
John M. Taylor of Taylor & Wiley, lawyer for the developers, said Monday afternoon that the documents have no bearing on the decision facing the county Wednesday.
"The issue on Wednesday afternoon is the board’s land use authority," he said. "It has nothing whatsoever to do with what homeowners association does or does not have authority over these properties. I’m not going to get into a dispute what those documents do or do not say. I’m simply not going to do that. What I do know is what’s going on Wednesday afternoon is the board exercising its land use authority. And I do know that those documents in no way negate the board’s ability to exercise that authority."
A brief press release issued Monday morning by the RMA said the question was filed with the county on Friday by Berding & Weil, the RMA's legal counsel.
The RMA's letter, by attorney Steven S. Weil, says a declaration of annexation was filed Dec. 31, 1980, and followed up with another filing, making a correction, two weeks later.
"Although difficult to trace because of the metes and bounds descriptions in the exhibit," the letter says, "it appears that most if not all of the 'Rancho North' property ... may be within the property included in this legal description."
After making the discovery, the letter continues, the RMA tried through title search to determine if the annexation had been rescinded but could find no evidence of that. The letter asks the county supervisors to require the developers to resolve the question before further steps are taken.
Forcing new development to annex into the RMA has been a key issue for those opposing the development. Developers have refused to annex.
Taylor, the developers' lawyer, said the issues raised by the RMA have no bearing on the county's decision.
"They’ve submitted a whole bunch of documents," he said of the RMA. "I know what they say in their own letter … they put it as a ‘may’ proposition -- that annexation may have occurred in 1980. … I find it very odd though that if annexation did occur in 1980, then why … the governing board of the entity to which they were allegedly annexed entered into a mutual benefit agreement … with the property owners of these projects."
RMA Director Mike Martel, who is heading the RMA's effort on the annexation question, was reluctant to share the letter and documentation Monday afternoon, indicating he wanted it to be revealed at the county meeting Wednesday. Taylor, the developers' lawyer, shared the 13-page document, which can be seen in full here.
Martel said the RMA had its counsel "do a little bit of research because we don’t want to spend too much of our money, but the information we did with the title company indicated to us that we could not find any other document" to contradict "what we think is true – that the property has been annexed in."
"We’re not the property owners," he said, "so we’ve asked the county to make sure that the developers that own the property if they can prove (the) de-annexation or that it never was. ...
"The research that we’ve done, we’re pretty confident. … We believe the property has been annexed in in ’80 and ’81."
The developments proposed for Murieta North would add 282 homes to the community.
The supervisors certified the environmental document for the Residences of Murieta Hills East and West and the Retreat projects on a 4-1 vote at a hearing in October. Supervisor Don Nottoli, whose district includes Rancho Murieta, cast the sole dissenting vote. Comments by the supervisors at that session indicated Wednesday's vote would have a similar outcome.
Coverage of that meeting is available here.
The supervisors meet at the County Administration Center, 700 H St., Sacramento. The agenda and related documents for Wednesday's 3 p.m. hearing are available here.
The meeting can be viewed live online here.