Big crowd but Placer supes put off Penryn apartment appeal decision

Hearing on controversial Orchard at Penryn continued to Nov. 6
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
-A +A
AUBURN CA - Red ‘stop’ signs on signs and red-shirted opponents to the 150-unit Orchards at Penryn apartment proposal were abundant Thursday at an appeal hearing in front of the Placer County Board of Supervisors. The hearing in Auburn attracted an estimated 130 attendees at the start of what would turn out to be a 2½-hour hearing that was cut short by another meeting scheduled for the same room. The hearing will pick up Nov. 6 where it left off Thursday, with supervisors listening to public comment from many in the audience. Thursday’s hearing gave the appellants and the San Diego holding company developing the 15-acre site off Penryn Road an initial opportunity to argue their positions before a four-person board. Supervisors Jennifer Montgomery, Jim Holmes, Kirk Uhler and Jack Duran were present for the special meeting but Lincoln-area Supervisor Robert Weygandt was absent. Staff said that he was away from the county on private business and not available for the meeting. Bumping up a Placer County Air Pollution Control District board meeting in the Board Chambers later in the afternoon, Montgomery and supervisors present for Tuesday’s hearing cut comments off shortly before 2 p.m. and will meet again at 1 p.m. Nov. 6. Weygandt is expected to provide a fifth vote and Montgomery promised that no further interruptions are anticipated to deter supervisors from making a decision. Much of the shortened meeting was taken up by a staff presentation supporting the Planning Commission’s June decision to approve the project. The town of Loomis and a group of local residents calling itself Stop 150 Penryn Apartments subsequently appealed the project. The appeal hearing was slated for Sept. 28 but Weygandt’s absence from that meeting spurred a delay agreed to by the appellants and the developer to Nov. 6. Marcus Do Luca, attorney for the Orchards development, attacked contentions by opponents that language in the Penryn-Horseshoe Bar Community Plan trumps zoning that allows up to 212 apartment units on the 15-acre site. “Those objections are misplaced when you look at all the language and relevant policies,” Do Luca said. Michael Johnson, Community Development Resource Agency director, backed up the language interpretation, stating that the community plan policies supporting the project moving forward as a 150-unit development are based on “the totality of the document.” Keith Wagner, attorney for Stop 150 Penryn Apartments, hammered at the development’s approvals as flawed because of community plan language he said shows the 15-acre site allows “at most,” 60 units. Representing the town of Loomis, Town Manager Rick Angelocci asked that the project proponents were “document dumping,” with enough new information in a 499-page report he first saw only days ago to push it back to the Planning Commission for re-examination. “The town is not against development of the project site,” Angelocci said. “Rather, we want to ensure that impacts are fully mitigated and the project is the best project moving forward.” Brad Fischer, a resident of Newcastle near Penryn, warned supervisors that the new development and residents was going to add to already high air pollution levels. “I think it was a great turnout and a lot of good points were made against the apartments,” Fischer said, after the hearing. “The turnout goes to show what the community wants.” Leaving the meeting, Lo Duca said that he’s taking a “wait and see” approach as another hearing date approaches in November. Bobby Uppal, whose residence borders the project site, said that he thinks the Stop 150 Penryn Apartments effort was bolstered by a turnout that spilled out into the halls of the county Administrative Center. “But it’s hard to say which way it went,” Uppal said.”