Regional U, Foresthill plan are approved

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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The regional university plan near Roseville and the Foresthill Divide Community Plan gained the expected final approval from the Placer County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Waiting in the wings, however, are two possible legal challenges – and a newly elected supervisor who was rebuffed on her request to hold off on approving one of them. Supervisors initially approved a quiver of contracts early in November that included certification of the regional university proposal’s environmental documents and rezoning of 1,158 acres of farmland to allow urban development and possible construction of a western campus for Drexel University. Supervisors also gave initial approval to a Foresthill community-planning blueprint that will guide growth along the divide, east of Auburn, for the next two decades. Conspicuously absent was inclusion of the much-disputed Forest Ranch development’s proposal to increase current county approvals from about 500 homes to more than 2,000 on property just outside the historic business district. On Tuesday, County Counsel’s Office attorneys said objections to approvals given the two plans were not significant enough to stop a final vote. The objections to the Foresthill plan came from the Foresthill Residents for Responsible Growth organization. The impact of a full build-out and discussion of the area’s water supply need to be analyzed further, the group said. Sherry Wicks, chairwoman of the organization, called for re-circulation of the draft review, based on new regulations by the state on climate change. Supervisor-elect Jennifer Montgomery requested that the board defer its decision because of the possibility of future costs incurred by the county if the Foresthill group challenges the plan in court. A delay would have meant Montgomery, the new supervisor for the Foresthill area, would have been sitting on the board if it were to be returned to the panel in the new year for further discussion. She defeated incumbent Bruce Kranz in the District 5 election last month. Kranz made the motion to approve the plan and all five supervisors supported it. The regional university specific plan was questioned in a letter from Davis attorney William Kopper, who is representing a small group of area property owners and has gained a reputation for filing suits against projects to ensure unions are awarded construction contracts. Planning Director Michael Johnson told the board that Kopper’s comments don’t alter conclusions in the final environmental documents. The regional university plan supported by supervisors calls for a mixed-use planned community, including 3,232 homes, 1,155 more dwelling units on the university campus, 22 acres of property for commercial uses, and 230 acres of park, open space and public lands. Philadelphia private university Drexel is a prime candidate to accept 600 acres from a partnership led by Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at .com.