A convenience center on Green Valley Road was approved at the Sept. 26 El Dorado County Planning Commission meeting after a lengthy hearing.
An unpopular development with some residents of El Dorado Hills, the 2.12-acre site at the intersection of Green Valley Road and Sophia Parkway is planned to include a gas station, convenience store, drive-through fast-food restaurant, and a single-bay car wash. The developer and owner of the property is Marc Strauch of Strauch Companies.
When the project came before the Planning Commission two months ago, a large number of residents showed up to complain about its impact on traffic and public safety. Others described it as a future source of noise, trash and light pollution and criticized its architecture since it is a gateway development into the county.
As a result of their testimony, the project was referred back to the developer.
At Thursday’s meeting, Strauch and his team of consultants came back with revised plans for the convenience center which they said would mitigate most of the complaints from residents including changes to the site’s architecture along with a deceleration lane channeling traffic into the center. Noise studies had also been conducted to counter complaints about the car wash.
Those changes did nothing to assuage two residents who were there to speak against the project.
With multiple concerns, El Dorado Hills resident Darren Bobrowsky claimed the deceleration lane does not meet Caltrans standards and significant safety hazards remain. There have been 30 accidents in that area in just over three years, he said. That justifies the need for additional road improvements and an Environmental Impact Report.
“I’m not opposed to the gas station on the site,” he said, “but I am opposed to what’s been done to accommodate the owner. The turn lane into the center needs to be widened but wasn’t because of what it would cost the owner to tear up the underground utilities to do so.”
He claimed the reduced setback from the wetland was also insufficient as trash from the center would accumulate there. Complaining about signage on the building, Bobrowsky said Strauch has other convenience centers in the county and has no respect for county signage standards which are generally not enforced due to a lack of county staff.
Another local resident and business owner, Amy Anders, also spoke at the commission meeting, focusing in particular on traffic problems, saying she’s even willing to donate some of her land to fix them. “But our concerns are falling on deaf ears,” she said. “I don’t see a vision to do the right thing. I’m pro business and El Dorado County needs the revenue, but we’re sacrificing public safety for money. Common sense should prevail and that’s what’s lacking.”
After listening to testimony from residents and a presentation by the developer’s engineer, the planning commission then spent several hours negotiating with the developer to reduce some of the noise, signage and landscaping issues. Changes to the project included restrictions on signs and banners, screening vending equipment from street view, collecting traffic data, planting more mature landscaping and closing the doors at one end of the car wash after 7 p.m.
With those issues settled, the commission then voted 5-0 to send the project to the Board of Supervisors.
In other actions, the Planning Commission granted a continuance for a proposal to amend the General Plan and rezone an existing mixed-use developed lot from commercial to multi-family residential. The property, owned by Eugenia Wood, is located on Pony Express Trail in the Pollock Pines area.
The commission approved on a 3-2 vote a request from Alex Thomson to rezone 27.68 acres from 1-acre residential to planned agriculture. The property is located on Green Valley Road in the Placerville area. The owner plans to grow and sell agricultural products on-site. Thomson said most of his neighbors approve of the proposed change but one owner expressed concern about the property changing hands in the future and the new owner bringing in chickens, cattle or a pig farm into what is now a residential area. With different ideas solutions offered up, including having the owners come up with their own CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions), commissioners Dave Pratt, Tom Heflin and Brian Shinault voted to send it on to the Board of Supervisors while Walter Mathews and Rich Stewart voted no.
The commission also scheduled a return visit in response to a request by Paula Reece for a general plan amendment and special use permit. Reese wants to build a 2,432 square foot market and deli with an outdoor picnic area on a 1.59-acre site in the Latrobe area. To be called the Crossroads Market and Deli, Reese also sought a special use permit for activities such as a farmers market, arts and crafts sales, and other social and entertainment events. With questions about the color of the building, landscaping, signage, lighting and how overflow parking would be handled, the owner was asked to return with more details at the commission’s Oct. 24 meeting.
The Planning Commission went on to approve three special use permits. One would allow an ongoing flea market within an existing retail center in Diamond Springs. The property, owned by John and Maria Taylor, is located on Pleasant Valley Road.
Latrobe Self-Storage was approved to have outdoor storage of rental trucks and trailers at an existing self-storage facility in Latrobe. The facility is located in El Dorado Hills on Latrobe Road.
Last, the Placerville Elks Lodge was approved to add an outdoor patio, two shipping containers for storage and a RV waste dump station. The lodge is located on Quest Drive in the Shingle Springs area.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.