Planners see growing interest in residential development

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat March 29, 2012 07:39 am


Some local planners are “cautiously optimistic” about a recent spike of inquiries and proposals related to residential development.

Two major Tuolumne County apartment complex projects were proposed in late 2011, which have some planners hopeful, but none would go so far as to label it as a sign construction has finally turned the corner.

“I think it would be a little too early to say that, but we were very pleased to see interest in constructing rental units in the county,” said Bev Shane, the county’s community development director.

Golden State Holdings submitted plans with the county in November to build an 80-unit apartment complex near Parrotts Ferry and Union Hill roads.

Ed Brown, a developer from Empire, also submitted plans for a senior-citizen community project on a 30-acre lot near the Eagle Ridge subdivision off Tuolumne Road.

The proposal calls for a 90-unit apartment complex for senior citizens, which would also feature assisted-living units, said Mike Laird of the county’s Community Resources Agency.

“The two developments are filling niches we really need,” Laird said. “There’s not a lot of apartments in the county and senior citizens have been wanting a smaller site like Mr. Brown is proposing for a long time.”

Laird said the two proposed projects are “larger than anything we’ve seen in a couple of years.”

He explained the recent proposals were significant because the abundance of foreclosed and inexpensive homes on the market have made it difficult for anyone interested in selling land or developing to compete.

Sonora Community Development Director Rachelle Kellogg told city planning commissioners at a recent meeting that she and planning consultant Amy Augustine had been meeting with several potential applicants interested in residential projects around the city.

Kellogg told commissioners at the March 12 meeting that she couldn’t yet make any of the plans public.

“There does seem to be more interest in either revising some old stuff or doing some new stuff,” she said.

Meanwhile, there hasn’t been as much hope in Calaveras County.

Building Official Jeff White said he isn’t aware of any major proposals like those in Tuolumne County, and the number of building permits issued has been declining in recent years.

The county issued building permits for 47 new houses in 2010, but only 31 the following year. In 2005, there were 45 issued in the month of January alone.

“We haven’t seen too much to get excited about,” White said.

Contact Alex MacLean at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 588-4530.