Attorneys finish arguments in ridgeline case; decision now rests with judge |

Attorneys finish arguments in ridgeline case; decision now rests with judge

Attorneys on Wednesday completed their arguments in the “visually important ridgeline” case, which now rests with a Nevada County Superior Court judge who might not decide the issue for months.

Judge Sean Dowling has until mid-July to issue his ruling in the high-profile land-use case of a Penn Valley couple pitted against the county.

Dowling will read more attorney arguments, the last of which is due April 15, before deciding the case. He anticipates issuing his decision well before the July deadline, however.

“Quite honestly, I find this case fascinating,” Dowling said.

At issue is Juliet Erickson and Peter Lockyer’s argument that the county committed a “taking” — improperly restricting the use of their land without compensation — when it required restrictions on the construction of a building on their property to protect a “visually important ridgeline.”

Dennis Viglione, one of the attorneys representing the Lockyers, told Dowling that the county failed to prove those restrictions were necessary.

“These restrictions are uncertain, they’re vague, they’re ambiguous,” he added.

According to Viglione, the county improperly added the restrictions to its building permit, which resulted in a “taking.”

Michael Colantuono, an attorney for the county, argued that officials caused no delay in the bureaucratic process for the Lockyers. In fact, county officials tried to help them and conceded some of their initial requirements.

“The tenor of the argument you’ve heard is there’s something nefarious,” Colantuono told Dowling, adding later, “Every good faith gesture (by the county) was met with extreme skepticism.”

The case has led to large bills on both sides.

County officials say they’ve spent about $322,000 on their attorneys.

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors has allocated $425,000.

The Lockyers have reportedly spent about $1 million on their lawyers.

To contact The Union Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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