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City looks again at Auburn Bluffs

By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn City Council is expected to make a decision on a long-debated subdivision in Auburn Bluffs Monday night. Residents opposed to the recently approved 9.6-acre development off Lantern View Drive and Auburn Folsom Road in Auburn first began raising concerns more than a year ago. Bob Knepp, a resident of Auburn Bluffs who has opposed the project that will subdivide the piece of land into 29 single-family lots ranging from 8,504 to 47,750 square feet, filed an appeal with the city several weeks ago. Homes would be about 3,500 to 5,500 square feet, if built to current plans. Knepp and a handful of other residents brought up drainage, street widths and fire protection as major concerns at a Jan. 16 Auburn Planning Commission meeting, where commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the development that is bordered by the Auburn Bluffs, Vintage Oaks and Southridge subdivisions. The Planning Commission's vote is not a short-term, changeable decision, Knepp previously told the Journal. This decision will enrich or haunt the lives of more than 250 families for decades. The proposed project, submitted by Kam Mansourian of California Trends Builders Group, Inc., was first presented to the Planning Commission in July 2006, when the project's use permit was unanimously denied. The original proposal included 30 single-family lots ranging from 5,712 to 53,237 square feet. Homes would have been about 3,500 square feet and 10 to 15 feet apart. Mansourian made several adjustments to the plan before appealing the project to the Auburn City Council. But after hours of public comment, council members voted unanimously Sept. 26, 2006 to send the project back to the Planning Commission to be considered as a new application. Will Wong, city community development director, said the proposal presented to the commission Jan. 16 meets or exceeds all city code requirements. And Mansourian also maintained all the conditions of approval set forth in the original plan. The revised subdivision design no longer requires any deviations from city standards, Wong previously told the Journal. The revised proposal still incorporates all the conditions of approval proposed under the previous planned development application. (Mansourian) is not taking anything away. Even though he can, he has decided not to remove any of those (conditions) from the project. Mansourian not only increased the lot width, but the side setbacks on the lots as well. We have really worked to address every concern raised by the commission, the council and the neighbors, Marcus Lo Duca, Mansourian's attorney said during last month's City Council meeting. We have worked hard to not just meet city standards but exceed them. Residents, including Knepp, are worried that in the event of a major storm, water would flow down the slope off Lantern View Drive and down into the Vintage Oaks subdivision. Mansourian had presented a plan that would include the building of tanks and pumps, which would pump water uphill to be drained off Lantern View Drive. But Public Works Director Jack Warren presented a possibility that would require roof drains to be built, which are capable of handling water flows, eliminating the need for tanks and pumps. Auburn Fire Department officials have said road widths meet city standards and they have no concerns with the project. Knepp said for him, it's not about meeting city code requirements and mitigating a few concerns. And that he hopes the city council members will remand the project back to the planning commission for another look. I am not asking for a new project, Knepp said. I just want them to take another look at these issues so we are not left with something that is going to haunt the people who live there for the rest of our lives. The Journal's Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story at auburnjournal.com.