“It is with a great deal of remorse that I move this item forward,” Jack Sweeney said Tuesday. The item was a recommendation to rescind Board of Supervisors’ actions of April 3 that had approved a commercial development of just over 4 acres near Diamond Springs in Sweeney’s District 3. Sweeney has long been a proponent of increased commercial development in the area.
Proposed by Grado Equities, Creekside Plaza is still planned for the northwest corner of the intersection of Missouri Flat and Forni roads. However, the developer requested rescission of the current project approvals in the face of a legal challenge to a “Mitigated Negative Declaration” that had been certified for the project.
In return, Grado intends to submit a new application and cover the cost of an Environmental Impact Report on the proposed project. Generally, under the relevant zoning ordinance, the developer would have to wait one year from the board’s decision before resubmitting an application. However, in this case, because he has agreed to pay for the EIR, the board waived the one-year restriction, according to documents from the county’s Development Services Department.
After the board’s unanimous vote to rescind the approvals, Sweeney spoke with frustration about the difficulties encountered by new development in general.
“This is an example of a very extensive process gone awry,” he complained. “We need to work on a process for projects and how to make the process better. Zoning is one example. I look at our competitors to the west like Folsom… We need a more friendly system for business or commercial parks in order to get economic development. I know it’s a CEQA issue, but I wish I could have helped more.”
The last comment referred to the fact that Sweeney’s term as District 3 supervisor ends Dec. 31.
The legal challenge that effectively stopped the project was brought by Friends of Herbert Green Middle School. It dealt with biological issues, air quality and traffic among other things, according to deputy county counsel Paula Frantz.
One of the project’s most outspoken opponents has been Sue Taylor, former candidate for supervisor for District 3. Taylor wrote online posts and spoke at board meetings throughout last fall and early spring. In November she posted in part:
“Besides the supersized footprint this project will have on the area, (46,000 cubic yards of dirt brought in, and 27-foot-high retaining wall butted up to the remaining creek), it is going to create more traffic issues that will not be mitigated by the developer… It will be a huge mess for the school. But folks seem to be more excited for the Burger King (with new employees coming from the Bay Area) than they care what will happen to the kids mingled in with all this traffic. Why is that?”
“The approved project was downsized by 8,762 square feet of building space in response to the court of appeals overturning the county’s Oak Woodland Management Plan. The adopted plan protects 90 percent of the site’s oak canopy and adds to it by replacing 10 percent of the oaks impacted by the buildings.”
Frantz opined in a phone call Wednesday that the oak woodlands was not a significant issue of the board’s decision to rescind the approval.