Lowe's lawsuits come to end

Both parties claim victory; request for attorney fees denied
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Two controversial lawsuits between Rocklin and Loomis are finally over and both sides are claiming victories. The Rocklin Lowe’s project, which would have been located on the Loomis border at Sierra College Boulevard and Interstate 80, has been in litigation since May 2008. Last week, a Sacramento judge ruled on the last of the motions filed by Don Mooney, Loomis special counsel. The judge awarded Loomis $830 for road improvements and ruled there was no basis for Loomis to recover attorney fees. Mooney had asked the court to award more than $80,000 in attorney fees. Beck said $43,338 would have reimbursed Loomis for the total amount the town paid Mooney for the Lowe’s lawsuit. “Mooney agreed to work for the town on a reduced rate which was about half of his normal hourly rate,” Beck explained. “He was attempting to recover our legal fees, plus the remainder of what his normal fee would have been.” Beck’s said he is shocked by the low amount of the $830 award. Beck said he has instructed Mooney to request information on the formula used to calculate the amount. “It’s awfully low,” Beck said. Paul Petrovich, owner and developer of the Lowe’s site, is claiming victory because all but one Loomis claim was rejected by the court. Petrovich blames the town for Lowe’s pullout from the project in July 2008, but a Lowe’s spokesperson said it was because of the economy. At the time of Lowe’s cancellation of the project, Petrovich said the economy and the threat of a suit from Loomis influenced Lowe’s decision, but were minor compared to the obstacles placed on the project by the Rocklin Planning Commission. Now, Petrovich places the full blame on Loomis. “The decision-makers in Loomis did the community a disservice and destroyed an opportunity to create over 150 jobs on the Loomis/Rocklin border,” Petrovich said in a recent interview. Loomis Mayor Gary Liss disagrees with Petrovich. “The worldwide economic downturn resulted in them not going forward with the project, not the Town of Loomis,” Liss aid. “On the other hand, Loomis leadership worked on behalf of Loomis residents to make sure that the impacts of that project and all the others around Sierra College Boulevard were properly addressed by the city of Rocklin. We are pleased that the city of Rocklin and the Town of Loomis are pursuing a new era of cooperation based on mutual respect and understanding and early communication on projects. Councilman Russ Kelley said he thinks it was a combination of the lawsuit and the economy that caused Lowe’s to abandon the project. “I think a lot of it has to do with the economy. If they would have wanted the project, they would have done it,” Kelley said. Perry Beck, Loomis town manager, said that the town was victorious in one of its efforts – to force Rocklin to address road improvements on Sierra College Boulevard. He said the Lowe’s suit helped the town achieve the larger settlement from Rocklin Crossings. Beck also said the lawsuit resulted in greater interaction with the Rocklin/Loomis borders committee. Kelley said he’s not sure if the lawsuits will result in better relationships between the two cities. “I don’t think lawsuits help form long-lasting working relationships,” he said. In a January interview, Russell Hildebrand, Rocklin city attorney, said, “The court asked us to revise a mitigation measure regarding payment of a fair share contribution to the Sierra College Widening Project phase between Granite Drive and Taylor Road.” Rocklin made the change and Loomis accepted. The event marked the beginning of a tenuous spirit of cooperation between the two cities. On Tuesday, Hildebrand commented on the ruling handed down by Judge Lloyd Connelly in Sacramento Superior Court. “Judge Connelly’s ruling was that the action by Loomis did not confer a significant benefit on the general public, as required by the applicable code of civil procedure,” Hildebrand said. Petrovich said even though Lowe’s will not be building on the site, he continues to search for new tenants and said In-N-Out Burger is in escrow on a parcel located on the property.