Planners revisit Oak Canyon Ranch

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

The Calaveras County Planning Commission is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a proposed 2,675-home development in the Copperopolis area.

If commissioners endorse the final environmental impact report, development agreement, specific plan and zone changes for the 3,251-acre project, Oak Canyon Ranch developers would move on to the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors for a final decision.

Project maps must then be approved before building permits are issued.

The Oak Canyon Ranch plan calls for 2,275 houses, two golf courses and a resort area with shops, restaurants and 800 tourist units, such as hotel rooms and time-shares. The resort would also have 400 full-time condominiums and apartment units.

The project is proposed south of Highway 4 on both sides of Little John Road, north of Copper Cove Drive.

Planning commissioners discussed Oak Canyon Ranch two weeks ago, taking public comment for more than three hours.

Proponents said Oak Canyon Ranch will benefit Copperopolis and bring money to the county. Oak Canyon developers have promised land for two schools, to build offices for the county sheriff's and planning departments, a library and a community park, complete with ball fields and playground equipment.

Opponents said the EIR was biased in favor of developers, and that more environmental review is needed. They contend the project could harm wildlife, cause unsafe traffic on some roads and destroy too much oak woodland.

Opponents also asked where Oak Canyon will get its water.

Calaveras County Water District officials have said they can get the water rights from the state to serve Oak Canyon, but have made no agreement with developers to do so.

At the end of the meeting after commissioners closed the public comment period developers handed commissioners a letter proposing language changes to the EIR and the county Planning Department's staff report.

Among other things, developers asked for the option to search the project site "in phases" for archeological areas.

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