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North Auburn big-box store developer to meet with homeowners near project

Planner now says Costco has been in contact with Placer County on Bohemia site
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The drive for Placer County approval to build a Costco- or Wal-Mart-style big-box store in North Auburn continues next week with the developer scheduling a town-hall-style informational meeting for prospective neighbors. And as the draft environmental impact report on the 155,000-square-foot store proposal is poised to move Feb. 25 to the county Planning Commission for review, a county planner is saying he misspoke at a hearing last week when he was asked whether Costco had contact with the county on the site. The site off Hulbert Way has been a battleground before. In the 1990s, a prolonged dispute included a court battle between developer-site owner Jim Conkey and local residents dead-set against a Wal-Mart. Conkey never went forward with the project. On Tuesday, project planner Gerry Haas made some waves at a North Auburn Municipal Advisory Council meeting when he was asked whether Costco has had any contact with the county. His answer was that the retail giant had not. On Thursday, Haas said that he “misspoke.” Haas said that Costco had contact with county officials before the Bohemia Retail application was lodged and that it had done so without his knowledge. The initial statement by Haas elicited a reaction from North Auburn resident David Keyes, who replied that a key concern for many is that Conkey is claiming Costco participation. The suspicion is that a Wal-Mart is really behind the effort to gain county approvals for a large store on the site, Keyes said. Located north of Luther Road, the 16-acre parcel is situated between Canal Street and Highway 49. The Bohemia Retail project, on what was once the Bohemia lumber mill property, needs a conditional use permit and environmental clearances to move forward. A draft environmental report looks at three scenarios – a discount club store like Costco, a Wal-Mart-like superstore and a home improvement store like Lowe’s. The North Auburn Municipal Advisory Council voted to recommend to the Planning Commission that Canal Street not be used as a secondary access for traffic. Steve Cavolt, a representative of the developers, has contacted the Fiddler Green Homeowner Association and property owners surrounding the Bohemia site inviting them to a town-hall meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The meeting will take place at the Planning Commission Hearing Room, 3091 County Center Drive. The neighborhoods surrounding the project include Woodside Village Mobilehome Park, Mountain Shadows, and the streets between Canal Street and Erin Drive.