Views vary on development

Landowner says Baltimore Ravine quality project for Auburn
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Residents gave mixed reviews at an Auburn Planning Commission hearing about Baltimore Ravine. While some were supportive, others were vehemently against the 725-home project. The lower level of the City Council chambers at Auburn City Hall was packed Tuesday with residents who wanted to express their opinions and get the latest information on the project. The meeting was one in a series heard by Auburn’s Planning Commission. No action was taken at this meeting, but commissioners did ask city staff several clarification questions about the development. Auburn resident Elinor Petuskey said her main concern about the project is the effect it will have on traffic on Indian Hill Road. Petuskey said if the project does get approved, the city needs to work with Placer County to come up with a solution to make the road safer with the addition of more cars making more trips every day. “We are talking about 10,000 more cars coming down Indian Hill Road or off Werner to Ophir Road,” Petuskey said. “When people get killed, it could be one of your (city) residents or it could be a county resident, but it’s still a person.” Meadow Vista Resident Tyrone Gorry said he is a fisherman of Native American descent who knows the potential development area well. “This is an extremely spiritual area,” Gorry said. “So it should be with great concern that you guys try to preserve it.” Gorry said he felt the voice of the United Auburn Indian Community had not been heard in regards to the project, and that it should be more involved. Stephen Des Jardins, of Baltimore Ravine, LLC, the owner of plan area 1 who will be developing the infrastructure for that portion of the project, said representatives from the Indian Community attended a tour of the property and have been notified of the process for the project. Ceci Dalton, who lives near Herdal Drive, said she still has concerns about the amount of traffic the project would add to surrounding streets. “This is too much traffic to funnel down Herdal and it’s too much traffic to add to the intersection of Auburn-Folsom and Sacramento Street and Herdal,” Dalton said. “There should be more than one entrance from Auburn-Folsom.” Adrienne Graham, consulting planner for the city, said several other access points were considered including Maidu Drive, May Perry Drive, Pacific Street, south of Pacific Street and High Street. However, these streets would require more movement of dirt and removal of trees during construction. They would also require larger bridges than the one that could go over Bloomer Cut off Herdal if the project is approved. The city would also have to acquire a right-of-way for these entrances, which it already has for Herdal Drive. Auburn resident John Murphy, who lives near the potential development, said Des Jardins should have to live on the development once it’s completed so that he would experience the same effects other residents would. Des Jardins responded that he does live in the Diamond Creek development he facilitated in Roseville, and encouraged residents to visit that community to see what they could expect for Baltimore Ravine. Colfax resident April Moore, who was born on the Auburn Rancheria, said because of all the vacancies in the area, the project would not bring a positive result to Auburn. “I don’t see this as a real worthwhile project probably in the future,” Moore said. “I find it really hard to allow this project to go ahead at this time or any time within the next 15 years.” Kim Dahlin, who, along with her husband and other family members, owns the majority of the land in plan area 2, said although her family is not currently working with Des Jardins, she thinks his ideas for development in the area are the best she has seen. “He has not been the only developer that has been interested in this property,” Dahlin said. “We have been spending lots and lots of time pondering the developments that the other developers wanted to do. He by far surpasses what the other developers wanted to do. With the kind of quality work we have seen (with Des Jardins’ plan) … Auburn really has the ability to have a huge benefit to work with Stephen Des Jardins.” The next Planning Commission meeting regarding the project is scheduled for Nov. 16, but the commission agreed that if more time is needed to make a recommendation about the development, it could hold another hearing, according to Commissioner Bob Snyder. The Baltimore Ravine project would then be sent to the City Council for its consideration. Reach Bridget Jones at ----------------------------------------------------- Baltimore Ravine background The entire Baltimore Ravine project is planned to include 725 homes, 90,000 square feet of commercial space and 143 acres of open space. Plan area 1 is currently proposed for development. This area calls for 270 housing units and 54.5 acres of open space. There is no current timeframe of when plan area 2 would come up for development. Baltimore Ravine is located between the westbound Union Pacific Railroad track to the south, Auburn-Folsom Road to the east and Interstate 80 to the north and northwest. It is approximately two miles from Downtown Auburn. The project is planned to have a main access point off Herdal Drive with secondary access through Werner Road on the northwest side of the development. Baltimore Ravine will also have an emergency access point through Perry Ranch Road.