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Traffic, main entrance still causes for neighbor concern in Baltimore Ravine project

Construction start date not yet known, developer says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Although construction isn’t starting yet, the Baltimore Ravine development is moving forward and neighbors expressed their opinions Thursday. Stephen Des Jardins, the developer for the infrastructure of the project, said it is not apparent yet when construction could begin, although in the past he said home construction could begin in Plan Area 1 in 2013 or 2014. Des Jardins said it is not accurate to say construction won’t begin this year. Currently Des Jardins said at this time he is working with the city on pre-development steps. “The work we’re doing right now is updating the city’s FEP, Facilities, Equipment and Programs, fee. The development agreement requires us to update the FEP fee program, and this basically is a fee paid at time of development. When that fee gets updated that is important because that means when people pull building permits in the city of Auburn, that is making sure the city is capturing the right fee to make sure developments always pay their way.” The Auburn City Council approved the development’s Plan Area 1, which is scheduled to have 270 housing units and 54.5 acres of open space, at its Feb. 28 meeting. The council also approved a master plan for Plan Area 2 and the study areas in the Baltimore Ravine Specific Plan. James Dahlin, who owns the majority of Plan Area 2, said he, his wife and family members are ready to move forward with development when the right developer comes along. “We are cooperative participators,” Dahlin said. “We are actively looking for developers. So, yes, we have always been part of the plan. We are planning on developing in the future. At this point we don’t have a developer we are in contract with, but we have talked to a few.” The development in Plan Area 2 and the Study Areas are currently set to include 520 homes, 90,000 square feet of commercial space and 88.5 acres of open space. Dahlin said Des Jardins has talked to him about development in Plan Area 2. “He has expressed that he may come forward in the future and offer to buy the property from us,” Dahlin said. “It would have been nice to have sold it for the value it was five years ago … but with the economy we are just willing to sit and wait for somebody that comes along that is reasonable for us.” Rosemary Ross, who lives on Herdal Drive near the future entrance of Plan Area 1, said the idea of the development doesn’t bother her. “I think it will be quite a long time before anything happens, and my husband and I are both in advanced age,” Ross said. “So, I don’t really think it will affect us too much – at least we hope not. So, we don’t really spend too much time thinking about it.” Doris Weldon, who also lives on Herdal, said she only has one concern in terms of the development: the traffic it will create. Weldon said she hopes something is done to insure cars drive more slowly down the street as the development comes together. “There is nothing I can do about it,” she said. “You can’t stop progress.” Dennis Johnson, who lives on Norman Lane off Herdal, said he is also concerned about Herdal being a main entrance into the project area. “I don’t think (the plan) was built with the best regards to the immediate community,” Johnson said. “That number of units that is going to be with that … to be using a street like Herdal for that much traffic is going to be more than that street can handle, and there is no room for expanding the street. The city is going to have to come back at some time or another at their expense to do something about increased traffic flow.” Johnson said he would rather see a shopping center go in by the tracks near Auburn Folsom Road so that city residents didn’t have to travel so far to go to the store. Johnson said he thought that a center would bring in more revenue than the housing development. In his opinion, a main entrance to the Baltimore Ravine project south of Pacific Avenue off Auburn Folsom would have been better than Herdal, Johnson said. Carol Walters, who lives on Sage Way, said she is also concerned about the Herdal entrance, because her neighborhood only has Herdal to get out onto Auburn Folsom Road. Walter said she thought a main entrance somewhere between Pacific Avenue and Herdal would have been better. Walters said other than the egress issue, she is not necessarily against the project. Both Walters and her husband, Harry Walters, said they are worried that if a fire broke out, and fire engines were trying to get down Herdal, neighbors would be blocked from getting out of the area. Des Jardins said Auburn should be proud of the development because it received the support of the Sierra Club, the Sierra Foothills Audubon Society and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. Des Jardins said he is glad to be able to continue the project. “I’m very happy to be going on like this,” he said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com