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Baltimore Ravine set for approval?

By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn residents may see the approval of the first phase of Baltimore Ravine Monday. The Auburn City Council is once again scheduled to look at the Baltimore Ravine Specific Plan and Study Areas project at 6 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The council could take a number of steps regarding the project, including certifying the project’s environmental impact report, approving the General Plan Amendment for the project, approving the project as a whole, approving the large lot tentative map for Plan Area 1 and adopting the Statement of Reasons to Permit Development in a Mineral Resource Zone. On Feb. 15 the Auburn Planning Commission approved a recommendation to the City Council that Herdal Drive was the best primary access point into the Baltimore Ravine project area. Out of two alternative entrances, the Planning Commission said one off Pacific Street was slightly better than one 750 south off Auburn Folsom Road. In a letter to the Journal, Auburn resident James Brady echoed one of the concerns of several residents who live off Herdal Drive. “By routing the primary access route via Herdal Drive a residential street is being changed to a main arterial,” Brady said. “In doing so the increase in traffic volume brings the associated safety issues brought about by the increase in conflicting traffic movements entering and leaving Herdal Drive.” Mayor Bill Kirby said he hopes to keep any public comments made during Monday night’s hearing mostly focused on the issue of the potential development’s ingress and egress. “We’re trying to focus on the access issue, which is what we discussed at the last meeting,” Kirby said. “Obviously, we’re not going to completely shut off comments, but this is not to discuss the entire issue. We have already had comments on everything. We’re not going to have a six-hour meeting again.” Kirby said all comments would be limited to three minutes. The Baltimore Ravine Specific Plan and Study Areas project is planned to include 790 homes, 90,000 square feet of commercial space and 143 acres of open space. Plan Area 1 is currently proposed for development. This area calls for 270 housing units and 54.5 acres of open space. There is no timeframe of when Plan Area 2 would come up for development. Immediately after the City Council meeting adjourns, the Auburn Urban Development Authority meeting is scheduled to begin. At the meeting authority members may decide to go forward on two projects: the Old Town Firehouse upgrade and the Old City Hall rehabilitation, according to city documents. According to the documents, the firehouse project could cost up to $134,457 in redevelopment funds and the Old City Hall contract is planned for $113,901 in redevelopment funds. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com