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New apartments mean more traffic?

Senior community will offer various services, developer says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Traffic problems are a topic of debate surrounding a possible senior apartment complex on Sacramento Street. In a four-to-one vote Tuesday night, the Auburn Planning Commission made an approval recommendation for the Mercy Auburn Senior Apartments project located at 585 Sacramento St. on the Auburn Sisters of Mercy property. The project is now planned to appear before City Council for approval on Aug. 9, according to Reg Murray, senior planner for the city of Auburn. The project involves splitting the current Sisters of Mercy property to include a sixty-unit apartment community on 2.9 acres for those 62 and over. According to Murray, the project falls into a single-family residential zoning area, which allows for four units per acre, or 12 units total for this proposed project. A use permit allows the project to include a multiple-family development in a single-family zone. This will be a low-income community partially funded through the federal Housing and Urban Development fund. Because it is an affordable housing community, a density bonus is available through a use permit, allowing for an additional 48 units for a total of 60 units on the property, Murray said. The budget for the project is $16.8 million, $300,000 of which is being requested through the city of Auburn. The remainder of the project would be paid for through federal, state and local programs, according to developer Rich Ciraulo of Mercy Housing. Sister Susan McCarthy of Auburn Sisters of Mercy said a senior community is ideal for the property because it would mix perfectly with the calming retreat center located on the Sisters of Mercy campus. “With family housing we had a concern with children that invading the sacred peace of the retreat center was a possibility,” McCarthy said. “Very early we sort of eliminated the family-housing (idea).” McCarthy said residents in 38 out of 60 units are planned to receive federal Housing and Urban Development funding. “It’s a HUD 202 project, which means that HUD, the federal government, pays for seniors who qualify (so they) do not have to pay any more than one-third of their income for rent,” McCarthy said. The other units would also be low-income apartments, McCarthy said. McCarthy said the development would offer housing to seniors in great financial need. “The benefit is being able to provide stable housing for seniors who are on a fixed income and could otherwise end up in the homeless part of the population,” she said. McCarthy said the senior community would offer residents walkways, Internet access, a common room for games and socializing and community gardens. Ciraulo said a service coordinator would also connect seniors to local programs throughout Placer County. The local community has been very supportive of the possible project, Ciraulo said. Auburn resident Sara Ann Ough, who lives off Maidu Drive and has lived in Auburn for 30 years, said she disagrees with putting a multi-family project in the area. “The thing I think I was questioning was … that property is zoned as single-family residential,” Ough said. “I don’t think it should be high density.” Ough said she thinks the amount of traffic on Auburn-Folsom Road is “fierce” and would only get worse with the addition of this project. “I just don’t think it’s the proper thing for that piece of property,” she said. “If I had known when we bought (our home) that that (project) was going to go (on Sacramento Street), I don’t think we would have bought it.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com