Preservationists win key court battle as costly dispute continues to rage.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Flanders Mansion preservationists scored a major victory this week when a Monterey County Superior Court judge ruled the city of Carmel can’t sell the 1920s-era property, which appears on the National Register of Historic Places – at least until it addresses some key questions.
Judge Kay Kingsley found the city’s Environmental Impact Report failed to consider alternatives to a sale of the mansion, and didn’t address the effect a sale would have on Mission Trails Park, which surrounds the property.
Carmel voters overwhelmingly approved putting the seven-bedroom home on the market last November, but Flanders Foundation attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley says the judge’s order invalidates the vote. She says the election can’t stand because voters based their decision on an incomplete EIR, and she says case law backs her up.
“No, not necessarily,” says opposing counsel Richard Harray, who represents the city.
He argues that the decision might simply require the city to re-do its EIR.
“It might not put a stop to everything.”
The court’s ruling does guarantee that short of a settlement, the decade-long, nearly million-dollar battle will slog on.
Brandt-Hawley says she and Mayor Sue McCloud have discussed Flanders, but she argues that the talks went nowhere because the city failed to consider any alternative except a sale of the property. McCloud couldn’t be reached for comment.
But Brandt-Hawley says, “Would we now, in light of this ruling, be happy to discuss this with the city? Of course. Perhaps we can move forward with an excellent lease.”
The city purchased Flanders in 1973. Designed by noted Bay Area architect Henry Higby Gutterson, it’s considered classic Carmel architecture.