Supervisors approve development |

Supervisors approve development

Rick Chandler

Despite lingering questions concerning environmental concerns and the implementation of Measure Y, the Missouri Flat Area Master Circulation and Funding Plan was unanimously approved Tuesday by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.

Missouri Flat – an area of Placerville just north of U.S. Highway 50 and east of Missouri Flat Road – is targeted for more than 200 acres of development over the next five years. It has been ground zero lately in a struggle between low-growthers and pro-development factions, and on Tuesday it appeared that the developers got their foot in the door.

The board approved Missouri Flat – or at least three of its largest components – by a 5-0 vote. Sailing through were plans for the El Dorado Villages Shopping Center, the Sundance Plaza Shopping Center and the county’s environmental impact report for the overall project.

Also approved were amended improvements to two road interchanges connected to the project.

And so, after years of contentious debate, major development in the Missouri Flat area finally has the green light.

Or does it?

“I have a feeling that you have not heard the end of this,” said former supervisor Bill Center, who was among several people who voiced their concerns at Tuesday’s meeting.

“It is still not clear to me that (Missouri Flat) meets the conditions of Measure Y,” said Center, who was active in the successful Measure Y (Traffic Control Initiative) campaign in November. “(The county) has made amendments to the general plan to save approximately $4 million. But the total cost of Phase I road improvements runs to about $14 million. Where are the assurances that development will pay for these improvements?”

Measure Y prohibits the use of county tax revenue for road improvements connected to private development.

And concessions to Measure Y have been made. The Headington Road extension – a project connected to Sundance Plaza – has been essentially cut in half so that county tax dollars will not be used. The project was scaled down from a four- to a two-lane road. Alterations were also made to the U.S. Highway 50-El Dorado Road interchange improvement. Plus, Phase II of the project was postponed indefinitely.

“What we have in front of us does represent a solution,” said Fifth District Supervisor John Upton, who represents South Lake Tahoe. “On balance (Missouri Flat) will be a great benefit to the county in terms of sales, jobs and level of lifestyle.”

But some Missouri Flat-area residents do not agree. Sue Megee lives adjacent to the Sundance Plaza construction site, and has concerns on several fronts.

“I don’t wake up every morning and wonder where am I going to shop?” she said Tuesday. “There’s more to life than shopping.

“You can’t change zoning laws just to achieve a developer’s dream. I have a dream too. It’s to drink water that’s safe and breathe clean air. You don’t have to have the attitude that we put a gate on the county and lock people in. You can go elsewhere to shop.”

Megee represents several residents who live near the proposed Sundance Plaza site who are concerned over a 4-acre area of wetlands that is due to be paved over. Sundance Plaza will eventually include 470,000 square feet of retail space on 73 acres – including a park and a waste disposal retention pond.

The Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that the project be denied due to the threat to the wetlands. The Army Corps of Engineers has final say on the matter – but that agency has not ruled yet.

“We are hopeful that they will rule for us,” said Bob Brown, project manager for Roebbelen Land Company of Sacramento, which is developing the Sundance project.

“We’re being portrayed as people who care nothing for the environment, but that is not the case. We care a great deal, and we’re taking steps to insure that we don’t hurt the environment.”

According to federal law, new development must replace any wetlands it eliminates. Roebbelen says it has plans to do just that.

Not everyone at Tuesday’s meeting wanted development to be postponed.

“A lot of towns have dried up due to major shopping centers going to outlying areas,” said Sue Moffat. “What I don’t want to see here is boarded up windows.”

No matter how you cut it, the board is on the fast track with development plans. Upton and Fourth District Supervisor Walt Shultz will leave office on Jan. 5, when new board members Dave Solaro and Penny Humphreys are due to be sworn in.

Also up for approval on Tuesday in late sessions were a Wal-Mart retail outlet in Missouri Flat, the Silver Springs subdivision (250 homes on about 244 acres in the Rescue area) and the Pilot Hill Ranch development (about 900 homes and a golf course on 1,800 acres in the Coloma area).

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