Hillside ordinance suggested



An Angels Camp councilman wants the city to look at a hillside development ordinance similar to one Sonora put in place seven years ago.

Paul Raggio, a former mayor, said the ordinance with guidelines on project density, road layout and landscaping, among other things should be adopted before more building occurs on Angels Camp's hills.

Without an ordinance, Raggio said, there will be drainage and erosion problems when lots in "the hilly part of town" are developed.

"I brought (the issue) to the table, but I think it's been an overall concern of the city," Raggio said.

In the first significant test of Sonora's hillside ordinance, the city's Planning Commission earlier this month signed off on a 47-lot subdivision near the Mother Lode Fairgrounds.

Sonora's hillside ordinance was enacted in 1996 to assure that development fit the city's topography. It was sparked by public outrage in 1993 over Sunrise Hills, a project that left the slopes east of downtown Sonora severely graded.

While there hasn't been such drastic development in Angels Camp, Raggio said that within the past year, homes built on steep grades have put strain on the city's drainage system and caused road damage.

Angels Camp City Administrator Tim Shearer said there were two homes built in the annex a hilly section on the south end of town that caused asphalt to crack and ditches to overflow.

He supports adopting an ordinance, "because when you're developing on hillsides, it's a whole different ball game."

Not only does the ordinance create an aesthetically pleasing city, said Sonora City Administrator Greg Applegate, but it also benefits the environment.

"As a mountain community, it just fits in well," Applegate said.

Kaye Simonson, Angels Camp's planning director, said she will soon review how Sonora and other jurisdictions have handled hillside ordinances. She said she expects an ordinance will go before planning commissioners within the next couple of months.

The Union Democrat
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