The Village at Loomis to ‘make downtown Loomis great again’
Action was finally taken on the Village at Loomis project as Loomis Town Council voted 3-2 to introduce several ordinances for final approval in January. Now, several resolutions will be on the Jan. 8 agenda for final approval on the entire project.
More than 300 residents packed the H. Clarke Powers Elementary gymnasium to watch the vote and what their elected officials would do in regard to the newly revised 251 home/mixed use Village development proposal.
Toward the end of a long four-and-a half hour meeting, a proposed motion by Councilman Tim Onderko received a second motion by councilman Brian Baker to approve the following:
- Introduce for first reading the ordinance approving rezoning of the approximately 66.5-acre site to planned development
Approving a preliminary development plan and development standards for the Village at Loomis development
Introduce for first reading the ordinance approving a development agreement with the Village At Loomis LLC, which includes the three areas of the project: Village residential, Village traditional and the Village court.
Approve the Village tentative subdivision map
Approve the projects development agreement subject to the certification of the final environmental impact report.
According to Loomis Town Manager Sean Rabe, council directed staff to look at realigning Doc Barnes Drive to accommodate the connection of King Road to I-80 and to review the noise mitigation measures to see if a redesign of the sound wall could eliminate some of the other mitigation measures associated with noise, pending approval.
Now that council had their ordinances ready; it was time to vote.
Councilmember Jeff Duncan voted no
“When I first saw this in 2015, I thought this would solve all of our traffic problems,” Duncan said. “I kept an open mind when the economic impact report arrived in 2017. I was concerned with lack of retail lack of adequate space and I don't think we need 28 acres of commercial.”
But, Duncan said, the Village at Loomis does not guarantee more revenue for local businesses. “There's not an analysis that says people will shop in Loomis if this project is passed,” he said.
Duncan was frustrated at the lack of transparency from the development’s early revisions in regard to lot sizes being proposed as averages by the developer.
“When I said a minimum 3,500-square-foot lot sizes in the Village residential with no alleys included, I meant a minimum of 3,500 feet,” Duncan said adamantly.
“With this project, it’s the amount of density I’m just not comfortable with in regards to how it impacts traffic,” Duncan said. “That's my main concern.”
Mayor Pro Tem Tim Onderko voted yes
“There is no one on this council who wishes to destroy our small-town character,” Onderko said.
“This project has come a long way since it was first introduced four years ago. I’m proud of the input from the community. Yes, this project provides some changes to Loomis. But not changing isn’t an option.”
Onderko shared a sentiment of many audience members: if the village is not approved, a worse development could go through without council approval.
“This project helps circulate traffic and takes pressure off Horseshoe Bar Road and Taylor Road,” Onderko said. “This project is consistent with the vision and policies of the town’s General Plan. This project implements that vision.”
He then cited the positive economic impact on the town if the development passed.
“The project will be a much-needed economic catalyst to our downtown. I welcome that kind of change,” Onderko said. “This project will make downtown Loomis great again.”
Councilman Brian Baker voted yes
Before Councilman Baker gave his reasons for voting, he expressed disappointment on how some Loomis residents have treated others.
“The one thing that I have asked is that we treat each others with respect,” Baker said. “To this day, that has not happened. This tells me on a deeper state where things are at in our community.”
Baker reiterated concerns that the developer could bring in a more dense or inferior project to the town.
“We have a landowner sitting in front of us. I don’t know if he would sell the land but what I have are the facts in front of me,” Baker said. “The crime and the traffic people are talking about haven't happened because of the things that have grown up around us. If you look at the crime statistics, those people travel from miles away to come and commit these crimes.”
Baker explained why he supported the project.
“I’m not going to say a market rate project will bring bad or good people; it will bring people who are looking for a lifestyle different from what they have, that's what I think,” Baker said. “A yes vote tonight is a continued move forward.”
Councilman Miguel Ucovich voted no
“The response to the development has been really great. I’m really concerned with the commercial. I think we need more commercial space than is proposed.” Ucovich said. “I’m concerned also about the sound. Now I thought the soundwall would be along the freeway but it’s not. It’s going to be along the back of the houses. What's going to be along the freeway?”
Ucovich said the Boyington Road design is also important.
“Boyington Road would need to be redesigned to have an on-ramp,” Ucovich said. “We also need more rooftops and this development isn't going to help downtown one way or another.” Even with the latest revisions, Ucovich pointed out, the project in its entirety does not fit within the town of Loomis.
“As it currently stands, I would not vote for this project,” Ucovich said.
Mayor Rhonda Morillas voted yes
I grew up in this community and have lived my entire life here,” Morillas said. “My family ran Nelthorpe and Sons for many years and I have seen a lot of change in Loomis. Despite that change, this town is still a tight-knit family.”
Morillas explained why she supported the Village.
“I am voting to support this project because I believe it will be an overall benefit to the town,” Morillas said. “I also believe the alternative would not be a benefit to the town and would actually do harm to Loomis. I do believe the developer has made the changes we the council have asked for.”
Morillas also expressed disappointment in how some community members have treated others in the process.
“Some of the character assassination that has gone on has been very disheartening. There are people who are actually afraid to speak at our meetings for fear of how they will be treated,” Morillas said. “These are our neighbors and it’s a shame there's so much negativity. This isn’t how we treat our family.”
According to town staff, the Village at Loomis project as a whole now moves forward to the Jan. 8 council meeting. The council will vote whether to approve final resolutions to allow the development to be built.