Longtime Southern Humboldt resident Robert McKee and Buck Mountain Ranch will be in court again following McKee's announcement that he plans to appeal a $200,000 fine imposed in a recent ruling. McKee tells the Redwood Times that appeal has not been filed yet, but the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors has already voted to fight it.
McKee says he purchased the property 13 years ago, and the lawsuit in question has been ongoing for more than a decade since it was filed in 2002. So far the county has spent more than $3 million on the case according to public records (Kaci Poor, ‘A slap in the face': McKee may face order to pay $200K in Times Standard 6/12/13).
McKee was unwilling to discuss the legal argument behind his appeal, but he criticized the county for attempting to reinterpret the Williamson Act -- which was passed in 1965 to protect agricultural lands from development. His subdivision and subsequent sale of grazing land of the upper Tooby Ranch was found to be a violation of the Williamson Act by state courts, due to parcel sizes that reportedly failed to meet the act's minimum acreage requirements.
"Anybody that really looks at this case and looks at the appellate court decision has got to realize that this county is way out there on this one. The fact that they could have won anything is ludicrous," he said. "This lawsuit should never have happened."
The county's decision to challenge McKee's appeal was made by the board of supervisors in closed session, which is standard procedure for votes pertaining to ongoing litigation. The vote was 3-1 with 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn dissenting and 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennel absent due to illness caused by a case of E. coli.