Forest Meadows expansion on agenda

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

The Forest Meadows subdivision, set back in the woods east of Murphys, could soon expand by 313 houses.

The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors Monday will be asked to approve the development's environmental studies, a general plan amendment and a tentative subdivision map for the new lots.

Since the 1970s, 460 Forest Meadows homes have been built on 765 acres.

The project site on the table Monday is 276 acres on the south side of Sandalwood Drive and south of the extension of Forest Meadows Drive.

The Planning Commission has already approved all the Forest Meadows items that will come before supervisors Monday.

Merita Callaway, board chairwoman, lives in the Forest Meadows subdivision. She could not be reached Thursday about whether she would recuse herself from the vote.

County Counsel Skip Batchelder said he doesn't know yet if Callaway can vote on the issue legally. He said he plans to talk about it with her.

"I'll have to take a look," Batchelder said. "That's advice I'll have to give her."

Calaveras County residents from Forest Meadows and elsewhere from the Ebbetts Pass corridor along with environmentalists have debated the merits of and needs for additional housing at past meetings.

A worry shared by project opponents has been how 313 new houses would affect the winter mule deer range. According to the project's Environmental Impact Report, the entire project is within the winter range, with 89 percent of the acreage considered "critical" winter range.

As recommended by the EIR, project developer Monte Silver has set aside 140 acres of conservation land for the deer. Up to 20 of those acres might be developed later, Silver said.

In other meetings news Monday:

? County Librarian Mauri Hoekstra will hold a 1:30 p.m. study session with supervisors to discuss the Copperopolis Branch Library, which is looking for a new home after being evicted in June.

The library's lease expires Aug. 1, 2003.

The library moved into its location at 49 Cosmic Court, Unit C, in Copperopolis, in May 1998. Rent for the 1,000 square-foot space was $689 per month.

Ownership of the building changed in May 2001, and in August 2002, rent was increased to $848 per month.

In a memo to supervisors, Hoekstra said the goal is to move the library to an interim location while pursuing funds to find a permanent library.

Contact Scott Pesznecker at spesznecker@uniondemocrat.com .

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The Union Democrat
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