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Council to hear appeals at August meeting

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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While the Loomis council voted not to hear an appeal on the tree plan for Sierra de Montserrat earlier this month, they did vote “yes” to hold hearings at their August meeting on appeals on two other projects. The standing-room-only Loomis Town Council meeting, held on July 8, lasted until almost midnight and drew a large crowd. Some were in attendance to debate whether the council should hold a hearing on the Montserrat tree plan approved by the planning commission and appealed by councilman Walt Scherer. Ultimately, the council made a precedent-setting decision not to hear the appeal. In a 3-2 vote, Mayor Russ Kelley, and council members Tom Millward and Rhonda Morallis voted not to hear the appeal and Scherer and councilman Miguel Ucovich voted to hear it. Later in the meeting, council deliberated on whether to hold a hearing on the Morgan Estates clustered housing plan appealed by Scherer. The appeal stated he wanted the council to reconsider lot size coverage, method of preservation for the open space lot, wetlands delineation, the drainage plan and chemical effects on the tributary feeding into Antelope Creek. During the meeting, Scherer stated that he was not opposed to clustered housing or the project, but was most concerned about how the open space parcel was going to be managed. “I think it’s time the council holds a discussion as to whether or not we’re accepting an offer of an easement on this project,” Scherer said. Alvin Green, who is a neighbor of the Morgan Estates property, told the council, “I think this is the best for the neighbors. It gives a buffer.” Kim Fetke, who also lives near the project, begged the council to “start accepting conservation easements.” “You might as well bulldoze the wetlands now if you’re going to put it under the management of the homeowners’ association. If the homeowners don’t care about the wetlands, they’re not going to enforce preserving these wetlands on themselves,” she said. Fetke also spoke of the council’s earlier decision not to hear the Montserrat appeal. “The three who voted to not allow people a public hearing on the Montserrat project, the reasons I heard for that were ‘It’s been through the planning commission review, it’s been through public comment, it’s already been addressed,’” she said. “This appeal is the same. So, if any of these people vote differently, then I’d have to question what the real reasons were for those votes.” Ucovich expressed concern over mini-mansions getting built on the lots and wanted a tot lot park put on some of the open space. The council discussed whether they would be allowed to decide the fate of the open space parcel without the appeal. It was determined that they could not. “No one can accept this open space except the council,” Kelley clarified. A motion to hear the appeal at the council’s August 12 meeting was made by Scherer and seconded by Ucovich. The council voted 4-1 to hear the appeal with Morillas voting “no.” “The other appeal (Montserrat) had mechanics in place to monitor, maintain and verify that things were being done appropriately,” Kelley said in defense of his vote to hear the Morgan Estates appeal and not the Montserrat appeal. Earlier in the evening, a group from Del Mar Road complained about traffic cutting through their rural neighborhood and opposed any planned road improvements to Del Mar by the town. A Del Mar Road resident said at the meeting, “Don’t widen it, resurface it. Leave it the way it is.” Numerous residents said Del Mar needs to be closed to through traffic. The council decided to get more information from public works on Del Mar improvements and to discuss it at a future meeting. Another group attending the meeting appealed the planning commission approval of changes to the Brace Ranch Estates’ drainage plan. After new evidence was introduced, planning commissioner Jean Wilson encouraged the council to hear the appeal. The motion to hear the appeal at the August council meeting was made by Scherer, seconded by Millward, and received unanimous approval from the council. The council will hold hearings on the Brace Ranch Estates and Morgan Estates appeals at their Aug. 12 meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Hall. For more information, call town hall at 652-1840.