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More chances for Ravine comment

Council could decide on project in 2011
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Residents will be able to voice their concerns and comments in a set of upcoming hearings on the Baltimore Ravine project. At 6 p.m. Sept. 21 and Nov. 16 residents can attend Auburn Planning Commission public hearings in the City Council Chambers at City Hall on Lincoln Way. No decisions will be made at the Sept. 21 meeting, according to city documents, but planning commissioners will hear comments on the Baltimore Ravine specific plan, study area project, general plan amendment, rezone, large lot tentative map, development agreement, environmental impact report and statement of reasons for permitting development in a mineral resource zone, according to city documents. The entire Baltimore Ravine project is planned to include 725 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 current timeframe of when plan area 2 would come up for development. Baltimore Ravine is located between the westbound Union Pacific Railroad track to the south, Auburn-Folsom Road to the east and Interstate 80 to the north and northwest. It is approximately two miles from Downtown Auburn. The project is proposed to have a main access point off Herdal Drive with secondary access through Werner Road on the northwest side of the development. Baltimore Ravine will also have an emergency access point through Perry Ranch Road, according to Wilfred Wong, Auburn Community Development Director. According to Adrienne Graham, consulting planner for the city of Auburn, as Plan area 1 was being developed Rogers Lane would serve as a temporary secondary access point. After 76 units are built, the developer is required to construct a road to connect Herdal Drive and Werner Road. Werner Road would then serve as the secondary access point. Wong said city staff would present some changes to the Baltimore Ravine Specific Plan at the Sept. 21 meeting and the final environmental impact report will be presented at the Nov. 16 meeting. Some of the documents that the public can comment on are not currently available for viewing, but are expected to be uploaded to the city website by Friday, Wong said. Wong said it is unclear at this point when the project would go before City Council, but the Planning Commission could make a recommendation about the project on Nov. 16, which could then move it to a City Council agenda. The earliest the project would go before the council would be in the beginning of the New Year, Wong said. Norm Chavez lives on Norman Lane, which runs along Herdal Drive. A proposed extension of Herdal would lead into the development area. Chavez said one of his main concerns is the traffic increase that will occur on Herdal. “They are talking about 270 units,” Chavez said. “You multiply it by two (vehicles) … and you multiply it by three for three trips a day … that is 1,500 trips a day. Traffic is something that should not be ignored.” Chavez said anyone trying to sell a home in his neighborhood is required to disclose information about the Baltimore Ravine project, and he thinks houses aren’t selling because residents can only offer homebuyers speculation about if and when development would occur. Neighbors are also confused about why Herdal was chosen as the main access point to the project when other roads have been considered in the past, Chavez said. Wong said access to Baltimore Ravine has been studied for 20 years. The city owns the Herdal Drive right-of-way and using other nearby roads as main access points would mean crossing over private property and cutting down more trees. Chavez said he is also concerned about such a large number of new houses when there are already homes for sale throughout the city. “I’m not against the development of an area, but I’m concerned that we would take that big of a bite in the city when we have so many vacant properties,” he said. Chavez said he hopes the city will keep residents in mind when making any decisions about the project. “I know the city has to follow certain steps on any project … but I would hope the city would look at it more from the standpoint of the homeowners and the residents, and how much it affects them, not how much money we are going to get out of this development,” he said. Terry Davis, conservation program coordinator for the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter, said the club believes if Baltimore Ravine were fully developed, its residents would have a small impact on the environment. “More than half of the Baltimore Ravine homes would be in higher density, clustered close to a village-style commercial center,” Davis said. “Those residents who live in or near the village will be able to find some of their shopping and restaurant needs within walking distance, without even having to get in their cars. Residents beyond the village will only have a short drive to get many of the things they need, not having to drive to a shopping center miles away. That means Baltimore Ravine residents would be responsible for less air pollution and have smaller carbon footprints than those who live in suburbs or rural residential.” Ruth Young, who also lives on Norman Lane, said she has several concerns about the project. “One of my big concerns is there is no protection of wildlife,” Young said. “Where do they all go? I don’t see a need for the project, because most of us don’t want Auburn to be a Roseville. Our whole lives will be disrupted.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com