Folsom’s south of 50 EIR OK’d
The Folsom City Council chamber was standing-room only as the council met on June 14 to approve the environmental impact report/environmental impact statement on the approximately 3,600 acres specific plan development between Highway 50 and White Rock Road south of the city.
“I’ve been working on this for 17 years,” said council member Kerri Howell, “13 years on the City Council and another four years before that on the Planning Commission.” She mentioned the many “2 by 2,” meetings with two members of the City Council and two members of other agencies, especially the Sacramento County Local Agency Formation that had to approve the area, which was in Sacramento County, to be in Folsom’s “sphere of influence.”
“The two Sacramento County supervisors on LAFCO, Illa Collin and Lauren Hammond, did not have a favorable impression of Folsom on caring for the environment. We had a lot of work to do to convince them,” Howell said.
When the residents of Folsom approved Measure W in 2004 by nearly 70 percent, they approved placing conditions on the area’s development in the city charter. One condition was that the oak woodland area, around one-third of the total, be preserved as open space.
Another was that the residents of the city would not have to pay for any costs of development south of 50. The city also has to provide a new water source for the area.
Council member Jeff Starsky, who was active in working with other government agencies and the property owners, is a member of the Sacramento Regional Air Quality Management District board. He pointed out the plan exceeds the district’s air quality mitigation standards by half.
A lot of that was accomplished by the transportation plan, which provides for rapid bus transit, and ease of access by bicycle or walking from one neighborhood to another, said Community Development Director David Miller. Another factor is the attention to the jobs-housing balance.
The goal is to keep as many people working in the area where they live and off the commuter lanes.
Council member Steve Miklos served as chair of the Sacramento Council of Governments. He said the Specific Plan conforms to the SACOG Blueprint for developing the area.
A long line of participants and a few residents in the process leading up to Tuesday night praised city staff for their efforts in developing the plan.
There were a few naysayers. One woman charged Miklos and Starsky with taking large campaign contributions and making personal profit from the project. When they had an opportunity to respond at the end of the meeting, they both said that information is a matter of public record.
To the woman who complained that the plan does not include enough low-income housing, Starsky replied the city could have built a lot of low-income housing with the money it had to spend on litigation brought by her organization.
With support from Mayor Andy Morin and council member Ernie Sheldon, the council voted to approve the resolutions necessary to move the project forward: 1) certifying the Folsom Plan Specific Area Plan Final Joint EIR/EIS; approving the General Plan amendment for the project; and approving the specific plan.
In addition, the council approved an “uncodified” ordinance prezoning the project.
There is still work to be done. Folsom and Sacramento County officials will have to reach a cost-sharing agreement. Water service has to be assured. SACOG has to approve annexation of the area to the city of Folsom.
The Folsom Cordova Unified School District passed Measure M in 2006, approving a bond to build schools as the area develops.
The prospect for the specific plan is to be built in four phases over 20 years. Twenty years in the planning, 20 years in the building.
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