Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2011-03-23 "Solano Land Trust will strive to raise funds in next five months to purchase 1,500 acres" by Tony Burchyns from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
A 30-year land battle between rural Solano County residents and a developer has ended with the purchase of the 1,500-acre Rockville Trails Estates property for $13.5 million.
The Solano Land Trust and White Wing Highlands Associates signed the purchase and sale agreement Friday.
Nestled between Vallejo and Fairfield on Rockville Road, the property consists of rolling hills, oak woodlands and rocky outcrops. It had once been targeted for a subdivision.
The depressed housing market, however, and opposition from Green Valley residents to developing the area created the purchase opportunity, Solano Land Trust Executive Director Nicole Byrd said Tuesday.
But the deal's not totally sealed. Initially, the land trust will buy 330 acres this spring, with the option to buy the remaining 1,170 acres by year's end. But the trust must first raise $2 million, Byrd said.
"It's a perfect opportunity and challenge for us this year, as we are celebrating our 25th anniversary," Byrd said.
The funds must be raised or pledged by Aug. 31. "This is one of those unbelievable opportunities that rarely come along," Byrd said. "It will be a treasure for all of Solano County to enjoy. We are going to need help from the entire community to pull this together, but we feel confident we can do it."
Proposed for development since the early 1970s, the property between Green Valley and Suisun Valley roads was approved for a 370-unit rural residential subdivision. But the projectwas halted by an environmental lawsuit in 2008.
Two years ago, property owner Dave Carroll and the Green Valley Landowners Association approached the land trust to explore how the three parties could settle the legal dispute filed by the homeowners group. The parties agreed that the best result would be for the land trust to buy the property, Byrd said.
Carroll could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Money from local assessment districts in Solano County and the city of Fairfield are anticipated to fund the purchase of the first 330 acres, which will cost $3 million. Added funds of $8.5 million for the remaining 1,170 acres will be requested through state and private sources, according to the land trust.
That leaves $2 million to find in the next five months, Byrd said.
"Even though this is a small portion of the total purchase price, it will be a challenge to secure," she said. She added that the land trust is actively seeking donations. "This opportunity may be once in a lifetime."

How to help -
You can help the Solano Land Trust raise $2 million by visiting and clicking on the Rockville Trails Estate link. Or, send a check to Solano Land Trust, 1001 Texas St., Suite C, Fairfield, CA, 94533. Make a note on your check that the funds are intended to support the campaign. For more information, contact the land trust at (707) 432-0150.

The Suisun Marsh and Mount Diablo are visible from Rockville Trails Estates between Vallejo and Fairfield. (Jorge Fleige / Courtesy)  

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