County should seek compromise in trail dispute
There are two ways to view the dispute about a section of a trail near Donner Lake.
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors either caved in to the demands of a private landowner or they are seeking a solution to a longstanding dispute.
Property owner Frank Cadjew has been trying to stop hikers from crossing his land since the mid-1990s, contending that the easement for the trail was granted for cattle drives, not for outdoor enthusiasts. He’s also complained that hikers and others have strayed from the trail and trespassed on his property.
The Historic Donner Trail Committee, the Donner Lake Property Owners Association and the Lincoln Highway Association believe it is a historic trail that clearly belongs in the public domain.
Supervisors entered the fray Tuesday when they voted to send a letter to the California Department of Transportation that asks the agency to review the easement.
Supervisor Ted Owens of Truckee has characterized the Board’s decision as just the beginning of a process to bring clarity to this situation. Board chairman Nate Beason echoed that sentiment Friday when he said his vote does not necessarily mean he supports removing the easement.
Beason expects that either Caltrans or the county will hold a public hearing before a decision is made on whether to remove the easement.
Cadjew, meanwhile, has offered another easement on his property for a new section of the trail as well as access for an annual historic hike on the current trail, which passes near his cabin. The Truckee Trails Association has said it could support the proposed easement for a new trail
In the meantime, historic trail supporters say they’ve gathered around 200 signatures from local residents who want to keep the trail where it is now. They have also vowed to fight any attempts to move the trail.
The other part of this discussion is whether Cadjew’s real motive for moving the trail is to clear the way for development, which trail supporters have suggested. Beason said, however, that would require a zoning change and an amendment to the county’s general plan, a move he does not support.
If the supervisors’ motive is to resolve a dispute between a property owner and his neighbors, they need to insist that Cadjew provide the new easement before they support vacating the current one. If Cadjew withdraws his offer for a new easement, then the county should step back and let the parties battle it out in court.
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