By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
What is now an emergency access road will soon become a second public entrance to the Frog Jump Plaza.
The Angels Camp Planning Commission last week gave the plaza's owners the go-ahead to pave an emergency access road off Highway 4 across from Foundry Lane.
Fred Katz, general partner with The FHK Companies, the firm that developed and owns Frog Jump Plaza, said his company wants to improve the portion of the drive from the shopping center to a gated entry just off Highway 4.
Katz said FHK intends to use the road as a second entrance to the existing shopping center, and a primary entrance into the center's second phase, which has yet to be built.
City Planner Amy Augustine told the commission that the Highway 49 entrance to the plaza is congested and the new entrance would ease that problem and serve people coming from Greenhorn Creek.
The state Department of Transportation has raised safety issues and opposes the paved road in that spot. But Katz said FHK Companies plans to buy the property from the gated entrance to Highway 4. Katz said the property's deed contains a 30-foot access from Highway 4 to the emergency driveway.
"We'll end up litigating with Caltrans because they interpret the private access differently than our attorneys, but we are not pursuing a 'public road' connection, as Caltrans calls it. We want the private access granted in the deed," Katz said.
The commissioners said they could not speak to the disagreement between Katz and Caltrans. They were only approving the access road paving from the plaza to the gate across from Foundry Lane.
"It's up to them to work with Caltrans," said Planning Commission Chairman Mark Rappaport.
The vote was 4-0 to grant permission for the paving. Commissioner
Lynda Tusoni was absent.
Katz said FHK did a traffic study and found that the drive would be used by 24 cars during peak hours, which he said were between 7 and 9 a.m. and 4 and 6 p.m.