Judge rules against lawsuit opposing Dorsey Marketplace | TheUnion.com

Judge rules against lawsuit opposing Dorsey Marketplace

A lawsuit filed against the Dorsey Marketplace project last year is expected to be dismissed, according to a tentative ruling issued by a Nevada County Superior Court judge.

The lawsuit was filed in August by environmental nonprofit Community Environmental Advocates and the community group Protect Grass Valley.

The litigation asked the court to reverse the city’s decision to approve the Dorsey Marketplace Project and to instead order city officials to conduct a comprehensive environmental review of the project.

The plaintiff’s arguments were ultimately rejected by Judge Thomas Anderson in his preliminary ruling issued on March 26.

The plaintiff’s said that they are preparing to appeal Anderson’s ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal, based in Sacramento.

“The Nevada County Courts dismissed our case, which was expected,” Community Environmental Advocates said in a statement released by President Ralph Silberstein. “Our attorneys will be appealing it to the State Court which is typical in (California Environmental Quality Act) cases.”

According to Anderson’s ruling, the lawsuit’s concerns about the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions were unsubstantiated, as a city report produced in 2020 had concluded that such emissions would not be significant.

“No adverse human health effects were found to be likely to occur, as resulting pollution levels would fall below ambient air quality standards intended to protect public health,” the ruling states.

Claims regarding the danger posed by toxic chemicals at the Spring Hill location were also dismissed, as Anderson said that a 2013 report by a state agency had not identified any clear threat to human habitation at the site.

Other arguments as to the project’s possible impacts on regional water, traffic, and noise were similarly dismissed, as Anderson said that such issues had already been addressed in the city’s 2020 report.

Anderson’s ruling is not final, as both parties have been advised he’s preparing a final judgment that will be issued in the next several weeks. However, both sides said they expect the judge won’t change his mind.

Warren Hughes, a real estate business executive who is managing the Dorsey project, said that it appears Anderson’s initial ruling will be confirmed at the final judgment.

“During the hearing on March 26, the Petitioners did not present any new or compelling arguments supporting their claims…Based on the facts above we are confident the court will rule in favor of the project,” Hughes said in a statement.

A date and time has not yet been set for the final ruling.


The Dorsey Marketplace proposal was approved by Grass Valley in April 2020. It authorized the development of 172 residential units with solar panels, 104,250 square feet for commercial usage, and 8,500 square feet of office space.

The project was originally presented to the city in 2014 by Russell Jeter, a real estate developer and investor, who claimed that the project would create hundreds of jobs and generate up to $100 million in taxable sales.

In their complaint filed last August, the plaintiffs alleged that the city failed to adequately review environmental concerns about the development. Such concerns included the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as potentially adverse effects on surrounding wildlife.

The lawsuit also argued that city officials ignored hazards inherent to the location of the development, which is situated close by the site of the former Spring Hill Mine. The site had been previously designated as an area of potential environmental hazard, due to the presence of toxins such as arsenic, lead and mercury that often correspond to mining activity.

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at swyer@theunion.com

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