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Highway 49 traffic a concern for county

Rick Chandler

Two significant commercial developments and one major residential project were approved by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, while one other residential project was postponed for further study.

A Wal-Mart retail outlet, which will occupy 19.8 acres in the Missouri Flat area of Placerville and eventually employ 245 people, was given the go-ahead by the board in a late session. Also approved was the Silver Springs residential development project, which will include about 250 homes on 244 acres in the Rescue area, about 20 miles west of Placerville.

Earlier Tuesday, the board approved the overall Missouri Flat Area Master Circulation and Funding Plan. Missouri Flat encompasses 200 acres of development in Placerville which will include the Sundance Plaza Shopping Center, the El Dorado Villages Shopping Center and Wal-Mart … all of which have been approved by the board.



In its final move of the evening, the board postponed a decision on the Pilot Hill Ranch development project, for traffic mitigation study. That means that the fate of Pilot Hill Ranch – a 1,800-acre development which would include about 900 homes and a golf course in the Coloma area – will be decided after the new board of supervisors are sworn in on Jan. 5.

A major concern of some El Dorado County residents with Pilot Hill Ranch is the possible traffic impact on Highway 49, which would be the major route to U.S. Highway 50 from the area. Impacts on Coloma and the James Marshall Gold Discovery Park will be discussed further.



On Jan. 5, Fifth District Supervisor John Upton, whose term expires, will make way for newly-elected Dave Solaro – who was formerly the South Lake Tahoe Chief of Police. Fourth District Supervisor Walt Shultz was defeated by Penny Humphreys this past November. The other three supervisors, Mark Nielsen (District 3), Ray Nutting (District 2) and Sam Bradley (District 1) will remain. Solaro will represent South Lake Tahoe.

Wal-Mart and Silver Springs were both approved unanimously.

“I was surprised by the lack of controversy surrounding the Wal-Mart issue,” said El Dorado County Planning Director Conrad Montgomery. “A lot of people stood up and said that it would be a plus for the community.”

There was a standing-room only crowd in the county board chambers in Placerville for the second straight week, as citizens voiced their concerns over issues ranging from Measure Y (the Traffic Control Initiative) to environmental protection.

Many contend that the board has been too far into the fast lane where development is concerned – four major projects have been green-lighted over the past two weeks – and Montgomery had originally been concerned about that also.

“My immediate concern was that we might make mistakes if we rush,” Montgomery said. “But I serve at the pleasure of the board, and the board wanted these issues voted on before Jan. 5.

“As I look back, I don’t think we made mistakes. We did a pretty good job.

“But I’m glad it’s over.”

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