A settlement agreement has been reached in a lawsuit that challenged whether Palo Alto parkland could be undedicated through the initiative process, City Attorney Molly Stump announced Monday.
Environmental lawyer Thomas Jordan sued the city in late 2011 after voters resoundingly passed Measure E, which set aside 10 future acres of Byxbee Park for a potential compost-to-energy facility.
Jordan argued that the measure "short-circuited" the city charter process for undedicating parkland. The city countered that the state initiative process used to put the question before voters trumped the one laid out in the city charter.
Jordan approached the city about settling the case before it could be taken up by the court, Stump said.
"The parties engaged in productive discussions and reached a mutually agreeable resolution," Stump wrote in an email to reporters.
Jordan was not immediately available for comment.
Under the settlement agreement, Jordan will dismiss the lawsuit and release all claims raised. Neither side has to admit being wrong and each will bear its own attorney's fees and court costs. The amount of money the city spent on the litigation was not immediately available.
The city also must perform "environmental review for the purpose of identifying significant environmental impacts and imposing appropriate mitigation measures" before issuing any regulatory permits for a compost-to-energy facility in the Baylands, according to the agreement.
Lastly, the agreement requires the city to place Jordan on its community outreach email address list.
Stump told The Daily News the settlement agreement is "absolutely" the best possible outcome for the city.
"We believe the court would have agreed with us," Stump said, "but this removes any question."
The city council isn't scheduled to make a decision about whether to proceed with a compost-to-energy facility until 2014, after it has completed a series of state-mandated economic and environmental analyses.
ON THE WEB
For more information about the compost-to-energy facility being considered in the Baylands, visit http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=1978&TargetID=145