580 homes eyed by project developers

Written by Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat February 25, 2013 08:05 am

PUBLIC MEETING: Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, Tuesday, 9 a.m. regular meeting, 1:30 p.m. public hearing on Sawmill Lake development, Government Center, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas.

A controversial proposal to build 580 homes adjacent to Copperopolis Town Square will be scrutinized in a public hearing Tuesday by the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors.

The Castle & Cooke plan, which would complement the Town Square commercial center that received mixed reviews after its 2008 opening, is recommended for denial by Planning Department staff. 

The Planning Commission concurred in a Dec. 13 hearing but on a split 3-2 vote.

County planners said the project in its current form is inconsistent with the county’s shaky General Plan, which is undergoing an extensive update this year, has uncertain water availability and could have serious impacts for rare plant and animal species found on its 243 acres.

Its proponents see it as potential boost to a stagnant economy, especially in sending a message that the county is friendlier to development and business than the perception of recent years.

Castle & Cooke Calaveras Vice President Dave Haley said the project is designed to bring in-fill to an existing community center, something long touted in regional planning.

The matter is perhaps the most divisive yet to come before the newly seated board, which welcomed three new members in January, representing a majority of the panel.

If the board chooses not to uphold the recommendation for denial of the project, it is asked to remand the project to planning staff “with specific instructions with regard to the timing and scope of project processing,” according to a staff report.

In other business, the board will review:

• a $444,744 add-on to the costs of the new jail and Sheriff’s Office project. The cost for unanticipated hard rock blasting and 62 additional fire dampers necessitated by a new requirement for the State Fire Marshal’s Office is within the contingency budget for such overruns. A total of $1,241,360 has been spent from the fund thus far.

• an application for $1.6 million in community development block grants. Recommendations are $1 million for renovations of the Hillside Apartments complex in San Andreas; $300,000 for food banks; $200,000 for job training and $100,000 for a Native American Housing and Infrastructure Needs Planning Grant.

• a letter to state Sen. Tom Berryhill and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow requesting a bill that would permit private business use of allotted low-cost electricity from the New Melones project. The county wants to use the cheap energy as an incentive to economic development.

• a $545,754 contract with Stantec Consulting for bridge repairs on San Domingo and Rolleri Bypass roads.

• a $195,546 contract with Quincy Engineering for bridge repairs on Lime Creek and Dogtown roads.

• the master plan for utilization of space and staff at the Government Center campus in San Andreas.