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150-unit Penryn residential complex passes Placer planning panel test

Loomis readies appeal of Orchard at Penryn proposal to Board of Supervisors
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A divided Placer County Planning Commission voted 3-2 Thursday to approve the controversial Orchard at Penryn project. The decision signals an appeal to the Board of Supervisors on the planning panel?s decision, with the town of Loomis and Penryn residents vowing the battle has not yet been lost. Speaker after speaker criticized a plan by Penryn Development, a limited liability company based in San Diego, which would result in construction of a 150-unit residential complex on a vacant, 15-acre parcel on Penryn Road, west of Interstate 80. Roseville land-use attorney Marcus Lo Duca, representing Penryn Development, stated at the meeting that the landowner had done all it could to answer county and resident concerns. That included pledges of $75,000 for the Del Oro High School swimming pool project and $25,000 for Penryn Elementary School?s ball field, he said. In the end, the entitlements were in place to develop the property, he said. ?Zoning defines what goes on the property and the zoning is entirely consistent with what is to go on the site,? Lo Duca said. Several speakers received loud applause from the estimated 80 people in attendance as they voiced a variety of concerns they felt should sink the Orchard project. Many mentioned that they had bought property in Penryn because of the rural atmosphere and didn?t want it to disappear as it had in other area communities. Lauren Spitz of nearby English Colony Road said the schools would particularly feel the presence of the development. She said about 200 elementary-school and 100 high-school students would be living in the Orchard apartments. But Michael Johnson, county Community Development/Resources Agency director, said the schools have estimated that the number of students was closer to 48 for the project. The Planning Department staff report did state that the town of Loomis would not be compensated for negative traffic impacts attributed to the project at two intersections and a stretch of Taylor Road. Gary Liss, a Loomis town councilman, told the hearing that traffic congestion was just one of the negative impacts from a development that had no significant benefit to the community. ?It would change the fabric of the community,? Liss said. More than 20 people spoke against the project. Peter Halo, a Penryn resident who said he lived directly east of the Orchard site, was the lone supporter. ?I completely endorse the project in its current form,? he said. ?It?s going to be a tremendous benefit to the community.? On the vote, planning commissioners Richard Johnson, Ken Denio and Jeffrey Moss were in favor of approving environmental documentation and a conditional use permit. Mickey Gray and Richard Roccucci voted against the motion. Roccucci stated that he would prefer a mix of lower-density housing and commercial development on the site, while commissioners voting to approve the Orchard didn?t enter into a debate on the project. There were shouts of ?Shame on you? after the vote and Penryn opponents of the Orchard project surrounded Liss after the meeting to see what the next course of action would be. Liss said the planning commission decision was expected and Loomis Town Council had already decided that it would appeal the anticipated decision. Liss advised opponents to contact their county supervisor and express their opposition to the project, including Jim Holmes, who serves as District 3 supervisor for the Penryn area.