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EDH residents challenge Folsom development plans

By From page A1 | June 14, 2017

The first phase of 10,000 homes being built in Folsom south of Highway 50 will come as Folsom Heights, 530 homes that will back to the El Dorado County line. Courtesy graphic

El Dorado Hills residents whose homes back to the Folsom boundary south of the freeway rallied to thwart a plan last week as construction on the first phase of the Folsom South Area Plan to build 10,000 homes gets under way.

Residents in the Rolling Hills Community Services District jurisdiction, including Stonebriar, Shadow Hills Estates and Springfield Meadows, asked for a special meeting with their Board of Directors after learning that sleepy Prima Drive would be jutted west to create a 25 mph, two-lane access road to connect the first new development, Folsom Heights, to El Dorado Hills.

The larger Folsom South Area Plan from the county line to Prairie City Road will take 25 years to build out, encompassing 3,500 acres and will include 10,202 homes. It will include a 5.2 million square foot commercial site, sites for an elementary, middle school and high school, two large 25- to 30-acre multi-use sport complexes and a town center described by representatives as “similar to what is in El Dorado Hills.” Approximately 30 percent of the land will be preserved as open space.

Folsom Heights includes 406 single family lots, 124 multi-family lots and a shopping center. Plans have been in the works since 2000 and Clay Loomis, a representative for the landowner, Folsom Heights LLC, explained to Village Life that they have tried to be “a good neighbor” to Rolling Hills residents every step of the way by communicating all plans to the Rolling Hills CSD.

The sticking point, and what many residents say they didn’t know until recently, was that the Prima Drive extension was approved to be part of the development in 2000 when plans were first under way. “There was one property owner at the time and the land crosses two counties,” Loomis explained to Village Life. “Because development was allowed in the El Dorado County portion but not Sacramento county, the owner gave sewer, water and roadway access for Folsom Heights, which was originally planned for 2,000 units. That roadway (on Prima Drive) has been designed since 2002.”

Loomis said he was surprised that residents didn’t know about the plan because Folsom Heights has been on the Rolling Hills CSD Board of Director meeting agendas and minutes “every other month for the past few years,” he said. “We thought we had done our homework and were being good neighbors.”

He explained that the Rolling Hills CSD would benefit if Prima Drive were an access road. For instance, Folsom Heights LLC would have paid the CSD $1 million upfront to mitigate neighborhood park and road impacts. “It would have been good for them,” Loomis said. “And there would have been minimal impact on Prima Drive.”

Regardless, after seeing approximately 50 residents’ opposition inside the Holiday Inn Express last Wednesday night, Loomis said they altered their plan and will not extend Prima Drive, but will make it an emergency vehicle access road instead. Loomis said this sets back the project as the developer must wait for road improvements covered under the larger plan on Scott Road and Placerville Road. Those roads will connect Alder Creek Parkway, which will become a main access road instead.

Construction crews recently began readying infrastructure and plotting home sites on Scott Road, which will be closed for the rest of the year. The construction crews are likely what made people finally stop and pay attention, Loomis said.

The El Dorado Irrigation District will provide service and water to Folsom Heights, something that also raised eyebrows with residents at the meeting.

“The Folsom Heights property has been designated within EID’s service area for some time,” EID Director of Engineering Brian Mueller explained to Village Life by email after the meeting. “Different options for servicing this property have been contemplated in the past with Folsom, but we have adequate water supply and treatment capacity at both water and wastewater plants to serve the project. Although the project is within the city of Folsom, they will be EID water and sewer customers. There may be a few lots that makes more sense to connect to Folsom’s sewer due to topography, but our development services group has been meeting with the developer and the City of Folsom to coordinate all of this. We are currently working with the developer’s engineer on their utility plan.

“Having this piece of property in Sacramento County in EID’s service area means that EID maintains a multi-county status and EID benefits from a multi-county exemption that prevents the state from raiding property taxes EID receives in order to balance the state budget,” Mueller continued. “A condition of Sacramento LAFCO’s approval of the Folsom sphere of influence is that the city of Folsom shall not request any detachment of EID territory such that EID will no longer qualify as a multi-county district under Revenue Taxation Code section 97.”

The city and state plan two new interchanges on Highway 50. The first is expected to be built at Empire Ranch Road in about five years.

When asked about his stance, El Dorado County District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl told Village Life he’s trying to gather information as to where administrative responsibilities lie. “I want to be a referral contact point and be sure a communication path is clear when people have questions,” he said.

The Rolling Hills Community Services District (formerly Springfield Meadows CSD) was formed in 1978 and currently serves more than 800 residents.

Julie Samrick

Discussion | 3 comments

  • Ellen PostJune 13, 2017 - 7:49 pm

    Unfortunately, this article excludes any comments or interviews from the residents themselves in spite of their reaching out to Julie Samrick directly. The community would be better served if the reporting were balanced. It made a nice PR piece for the development though.

    Reply
  • Ellen Van DykeJune 17, 2017 - 6:28 am

    It looks like the developer voluntarily changed 17 year old already approved plans for the access point to the proposed houses in order to please neighbors who were not aware of the project details - is that right? There should be some neighbors saying 'wow, thanks!' but since I'm not hearing that, I think there's more to the story!

    Reply
  • Joel WileyJune 23, 2017 - 5:38 pm

    As I understand it, among the Stonebriar residents' concerns was the apparent intent to use the road for heavy construction vehicle access through the residential neighborhood. I did not see anything on that in the article.

    Reply

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