Developer and critics meet again

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By ERIN MAYES

Voter's Choice members heard last night from the spokesman for the housing and commercial development their group halted two years ago with a petition drive.

"We did not do a good job of addressing the needs of the community as we were going through the planning process," Ron Kopf of Mountain Springs told an audience of about 100 during the meeting at the Sonora Elks Lodge.

A project redesign is under way but Kopf won't yet say how many homes would be proposed for the acreage around Mountain Springs Golf Club on Lime Kiln Road, south of Sonora. But, Kopf did say the revision would likely include less than the 1,500 homes approved by Tuolumne County supervisors in late 2001. That vote prompted a successful Voter's Choice petition drive which, in turn, prompted the developers to pull the project back for revision.

Had Mountain Springs not been withdrawn, the petition drive assured, voters would have decided its future in a countywide referendum.

Initially, 2,076 houses and 34 acres allotted for commercial and mixed use were proposed.

Members of Voters Choice, which organized the meeting, said they were pleased with with Kopf's presentation but that many questions about the project remain unanswered.

"I think there continues to be some skepticism about this project," said Voters Choice President Barbara Farkas this morning. "? Ron really stressed a resort component. That was mentioned a lot."

She said she and others continue to have many questions about traffic, water, air quality and other services such a large project would require.

Paula Authier, a member of the Voter's Choice steering committee, also noted Kopf's repeated reference to a "resort."

"He kept talking about a resort and not a community. People are really hopeful for a community there. There's still questions about how many homes will be there and how it will be marketed," said Authier.

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The Union Democrat
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