News: 1999-01.01-development

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T: Black Point Housing 
A: Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer
D: Tuesday, January 19, 1999 
C: (c)1999 San Francisco Chronicle 


Chopping and grading has resumed on 239 acres of forest and wetlands in Novato where aficionados of Elizabethan culture annually romped during the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

The California Court of Appeal late Thursday lifted a temporary restraining order that had blocked construction in the Black Point forest.

The decision means that the Black Point Partnership, which owns the land, may go ahead with plans to build 53 homes and a golf course on the oak-studded hills and flatlands off Highway 37 despite an appeal that has yet to be decided in court.

It was a near-death blow to environmentalists, who have been fighting developers for eight years in an attempt to preserve the land.

``The issue as far as we're concerned has been decided,'' said Vince Mulroy, of the Black Point Partnership. ``Our opponents had 8 1/2 years to make their case and their arguments just haven't carried the day.''

Louis Nuyens, of the Black Point Forest and Wetlands Rescue Project, said the group must raise $10,000 in the next two weeks to keep their appeal going. He said it could be several months before the appeal is heard.

``It looks pretty bleak,'' Nuyens said. ``Meanwhile, the Black Point Partnership is raping the forest.''

Novato voters approved the development last February after some 25 public hearings, lawsuits and countersuits over the better part of a decade.

The Black Point Partnership, which purchased the land for $7.6 million in 1990, drastically scaled back the project from the original 200 houses as a result of the controversy. It also set aside 64 acres of the most ecologically valuable land as a permanent wildlife preserve and vowed to plant three trees for each of the 4,282 scheduled to be felled.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire officials announced last weekend that they are in final negotiations to relocate the annual event to Antioch, which would end its long association with Marin County.

1999 San Francisco Chronicle Page A12