Interesting plans

By From page A6 | November 16, 2012

Official environmental studies have now begun for new projects by the company that produced Serrano, the highly successful El Dorado Hills residential development.

Parker Development has refined its three plans over the past year and a half by holding 66 briefings and 43 site tours for neighbors, local officials and civic groups. As a result of those preparatory meetings Bill Parker and his planning chief, Vice President Tom Howard, made major adjustments to their plans for Marble Valley south of Highway 50 and refined other plans. Additionally, they added a fourth project by partnering with the owners of the 740-acre Gallo property next to Marble Valley.

It is unusual and probably unique for a development company to be so open about its plans in advance of the formal EIR process. The openness produced changes in the plans as the development company received feedback. The result will be an outstanding project and the prospect of a smooth approval process.

The change to the 2,300-acre Marble Valley plan was to eliminate large acreage lots along the perimeter and leave that area as a wildlife corridor. The lots will be clustered around the central road and utilities. The southern end of  Marble Valley will be a 500-acre wildland park with public access for horse trailers and hikers. The Gallo family’s Lime Rock property next door will have a direct connection with the El Dorado Trail on the railroad right of way. That trail will extend into Marble Valley.

Marble Valley will host 50 acres of vineyards.

The second major development that will be a community enhancement is the Westside project that will feature more affordable homes, townhouses, half-plexes, condominiums and apartments on the defunct El Dorado Hills Golf Course. The major community benefit here is improving the seasonal creek and providing trail access to Raley’s and La Borgata. Residents will be able to walk to these two centers. But, wait, there’s more. Parker Development plans to build a pedestrian bridge from this planned community to Town Center on the south side of the freeway. Additionally 15 acres of soccer fields and a baseball diamond are planned next to the freeway, facilities already in short supply in El Dorado Hills.

A third smaller plan of 56 lots on 102 acres has been designed for east of Ridgeview Drive between Gillette Drive and Wilson Boulevard, but not visible from the Ridgeview neighborhood.

The plans for the three Parker projects and the fourth Gallo partnership project represent interesting plans. Scoping meetings are expected to start in March 2013. Hopes are for completion and certification of the EIR by the end of 2014.  Serrano took 22 years to plan and build out and it still has 1,000 lots left to build on. These four plans likely will take a similar amount of time to build out.

The value to the community includes public amenities, $1 billion in economic effect and $100 million in fees to the El Dorado Irrigation District, which will take a big chunk out of its debt and slow or halt the rate hikes. Interesting plans indeed.

Mountain Democrat

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