After a lengthy and, at times, contentious hearing, the Creekside Plaza plan was approved by the El Dorado County Planning Commission on a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Lou Rain absent. The plan now goes to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.
Opposition from the public and frustration on the part of the developers was in evidence throughout the hearing. Local residents asked the Planning Commission to deny the project because of environmental, safety, visual, and traffic concerns as well as its potential effect on the nearby school.
The developers and their staff countered that they have earned a mitigated negative impact report after working on the project for two and a half years. In the end, the commission decided to move the project forward as long as certain modifications are made to the project.
The most important modification comes as a result of the of a state appellant court ruling Jan. 20 regarding the county’s Oak Woodland Protection Plan.
Originally the Creekside Plaza developers planned on paying a mitigation fee for the right to remove a portion of the site’s oaks. The recent ruling disallows that option and the recommendation going to the Board of Supervisors includes the requirement that the developers modify their project to retain 90 percent of the site’s healthy canopy of oaks.
The Creekside Plaza project, if approved by the Board of Supervisors, would rezone the northwest corner of the intersection of Forni and Missouri Flat roads from residential to commercial use. When complete, the 4.1-acre site will have two office buildings and one fast food restaurant.
While the court’s ruling on the county’s Oak Woodland Protection Plan does not go into effect for 30 days, the Planning Department is already contemplating the effect it will have on other projects.
According to deputy county counsel Paula Frantz, projects already in the pipeline need to be evaluated in terms of the requirements in place before the Oak Woodland Protection Plan went into effect. And those projects that relied on the plan’s paid mitigation approach may be subject to litigation later on, she said.
The Planning Commission also approved the Treviso II subdivision project in El Dorado Hills. The hearing on the Wilson Estates project was continued to another date.