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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

David Nairne hoped to draw a bigger crowd.

Ever since he and co-developer Maury Froman began planning Oak Canyon Ranch in the mid-1990s, they said, they've been criticized for not interacting enough with residents of Copperopolis, where they propose to build their 3,251-acre housing project.

So when 40 people showed up at the historic armory in Copperopolis yesterday to learn more about Oak Canyon Ranch and 40 people is a lofty turnout for most meetings in Calaveras County Nairne said he was somewhat disappointed.

But he also saw a bright side after the hour-and-a-half long meeting:

"The ones who came asked good questions and were interested in the project," said Nairne, admitting there were some audience concerns, but that nobody was "passionately against us."

Oak Canyon Ranch, if approved, would be built south of Highway 4 around Little John Road.

Plans call for 2,275 houses, two golf courses, shops, restaurants and other facilities, possibly a convention center or day spa. There's also a planned resort area that could have 400 full-time residences and 800 units for tourist accommodations, such as hotel rooms and time shares.

Some people attending yesterday's meeting were concerned about how the proposed number of houses, or the resort area, would affect the rest of Copperopolis.

There were questions about how close schools would be to resort shops almost half a mile away, Nairne told them and about how viable the "specialty store" businesses there would be.

Nairne said developers aren't after "big box" retailers such as Wal-Mart. However, some audience members said Copperopolis residents would benefit from a shopping center.

Another audience member asked why the project's proposed site for a new fire station is only a quarter mile from the existing Copperopolis station. Nairne said the project's site was chosen by the Copperopolis Fire District.

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The Union Democrat
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