Simmering controversy over low-income apartments in Bowman to continue

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The Placer County Board of Supervisors granted some breathing room Tuesday in a dispute over a controversial 64-unit affordable housing development on Silver Bend Way in Bowman. But that’s no guarantee the issue will cool down. The Miner’s Ridge Family Apartment site has been a developmental battleground since 2002, when subsidized, low-income housing was first proposed for the 6-acre parcel. The possibility of an affordable housing project on the site was resurrected last year and the Placer County Planning Commission approved a plan last month that calls for construction of 64 low-income units. The commission’s decision was quickly challenged by two separate parties, who filed appeals to have the apartment plan heard before the Board of Supervisors. But both had problems with a hearing set for Tuesday and supervisors agreed to bump the matter back to its next meeting Aug. 10. Retired Placer High School teacher Mario Ferrante and Downtown Auburn outdoor sports store owner William Prior filed an appeal five days after the planning commission decision. They say they’ll lose access to their property adjacent to the project site. North Auburn community activist Dale Smith filed a separate appeal May 24 challenging environmental clearances he said didn’t go far enough on the issue of soil contamination at the property. Smith is also objecting to a development he said breached a previous settlement agreement four years ago between opponents and the county. Both Ferrante and Smith said family priorities would prevent them from attending Tuesday’s hearing. Michael Johnson, planning director for the county, recommended that the hearing be put off until next month. Supervisors agreed to the delay. Johnson said he could agree to the postponement because the project applicant USA Properties Fund no longer had to deal with a July 1 deadline to secure federal and state funding. Final approvals had to be in place by July 1 but USA Properties saw how competitive tax-credit funding was and decided to take more time to gather information and restructure the project, said Jim Lobue, county redevelopment agency deputy director. Also placed on hold was a request for $2 million in redevelopment funds for the Miner’s Ridge Family Apartments project