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Judge rules against Morada in dispute

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Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2010 12:00 am

A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge has ruled against the Morada Area Association and determined that the Stockton General Plan meets the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

The Morada group, consisting of residents and landowners, claimed that the General Plan's environmental impact report doesn't take into account the water that Stockton is draining from Morada wells, said Richard Shaffer, president of the Morada Area Association.

The case was the latest in Morada residents' attempts to reduce growth in Stockton.

"As to each of these challenges, the issue is not who is right or who is wrong," Superior Court Judge Lesley D. Holland wrote in his decision. "The issue for the court is whether (Stockton) had sufficient and accurate information before it with which to make an environmentally informed decision about the project.

"So long as there is substantial evidence to support the findings of the city that the availability of water sources are firm, the court must defer," Holland added.

The Morada Area Association offered no evidence that water will not be available to serve future development in Stockton, Holland said.

"I'm very, very disappointed," Shaffer said. "The facts are that the water table in Morada has dropped 10 feet in two years, ever since Stockton put in two gigantic wells west of (Highway) 99."

The Stockton city attorney's office didn't return a call for comment Wednesday.

Holland issued his ruling on Jan. 4, but Stockton and Morada officials weren't notified until late Tuesday afternoon.

Shaffer said he will talk to his Morada board and their attorney, Bill Yeates, about whether to appeal Holland's decision. Yeates said on Wednesday that he was out of town and hadn't read the decision.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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