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Planning Commission says Herdal the best

Family ‘won’t go quietly’ if eminent domain comes into play, member says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn Planning Commission thinks Herdal Drive is the best way to get into the potential 790-home Baltimore Ravine development, despite some neighbors disagreeing. In a 2-0 vote Tuesday night the commission made two recommendations to the Auburn City Council. The first recommendation was that of the two alternative access points brought to its attention, an entrance off Pacific Street would be slightly better than one 750 feet south off Auburn Folsom Road. The second recommendation stated that of the three choices, Herdal was still the best way to enter the potential development. Plan Area 1 of the project is currently proposed for development. This area calls for 270 housing units. There is no timeframe of when Plan Area 2 would come up for development. Commissioners Lisa Worthington and Alan Young were absent Tuesday, and Commissioner Fred Vitas had to recuse himself from the meeting, leaving only Commissioner Matt Spokely and Chairman Bob Snyder. City staff made a presentation to the commission about the two alternative access points. During the presentation Reg Murray, senior planner for the city, noted several drawbacks about the alternatives, including conflict with land owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, Auburn Area Recreation and Parks District and the Sipe family. Murray said Fire Chief Mark D’Ambrogi and Police Chief Valerie Harris both had concerns with the alternative roads, including slower response times into any future development and the potential for vandalism and crime should people be able to access land that is not currently open. Murray also stated that 13 or 14 acres of land would be disturbed by the two alternatives and 1,600 feet of drainage. If Herdal were used, 1.5 acres would be disturbed. Murray said the two other entrances would require using half an acre of land from the recreation district and 4.5 acres of land from the Sipe family. The Sipe property is located off Baltimore Road. Murray said of the two alternatives and Herdal, city staff recommended Herdal as the best option. Roseville resident Kristy Steen, who is the youngest daughter of Leslie Sipe, said her family would not go quietly if the city tried to exercise eminent domain over family property. “We would just like to reiterate the fact that we don’t think eminent domain is something that should happen,” Steen said. “We believe with the Herdal access that is already there, there is no necessity to go through Baltimore Ravine.” Auburn resident Andy Helms, who lives on Oak View Terrace off Herdal, said he is fine with Herdal being used as an access during Plan Area 1 development of the Baltimore Ravine project, but the possible build-out in Plan Area 2 concerned him. “I don’t mind Herdal,” Helms said. “I would like to see more access, and Werner (Road) is not an access, it’s an escape route. Pacific (Street) is a nice access.” Stephen Des Jardins, developer for the infrastructure of the project, currently has an easement over the city’s right-of-way off Herdal Drive where the proposed Herdal entrance would begin. Des Jardins said Tuesday he would plan to use his easement at Herdal, even if the city did not decide to use it as a public road into the project. Because of this, Des Jardins said, it wouldn’t make sense to use eminent domain over the Sipe family. “Especially because Herdal would exist anyway,” Des Jardins said. City Attorney Michael Colantuono said the city could not deny access to Herdal Drive, because it is a public street, and it would be possible for Des Jardins to build a private road leading to the public street on his easement. The Baltimore Ravine Specific Plan and Study Areas Project will return to the City Council on Feb. 28 for further consideration. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com