Council OKs Morgan Estates plan after few changes

By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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The Loomis Town Council placed additional conditions on Morgan Estates, before unanimously voting to uphold the Planning Commission’s approval of the clustered housing development. During the council appeal hearing on Aug. 19, Planning Commissioner Jean Wilson addressed the council and said, “It’s late in the game to try to start over now.” Mike Hogan, commission chairman, echoed Wilson’s sentiment. “It is inappropriate to hold up the process … not fair to burden eight houses with a complete redo of this project,” Hogan said. He also expressed frustration with the lack of policy regarding open space in Loomis. “It’s about time to handle open space. There is no policy. We’re making it up on the fly. We reinvent the wheel on every development,” he said. The council listened to a presentation by Councilman Walt Scherer who said, “This is probably the best project we’ve ever seen in Loomis … The planning commission deserves to be applauded.” Scherer said he appealed the project “to give us the opportunity to take a good project and make it better.” Council discussed numerous options before agreeing to add conditions to the Planning Commission’s approval. Council is requiring an Irrevocable Offer of Dedication for the Open Space Easement prior to Final Map Approval. They also stipulated that the property owner hire a wetlands/open space maintenance company to maintain the open space and provide an annual report until the Town accepts the dedication of the easement. The final stipulation, made at Councilman Miguel Ucovich’s request, was to change the lot coverage from 30 percent to 25 percent. Ucovich said that he did not want to see oversized houses built on smaller lots. The final motion to uphold the commission’s approval of the project was made by Councilman Tom Millward and seconded by Councilwoman Rhonda Morillas. The builder will have 10 days to respond to the additional stipulations once they have been received. The events preceding the appeal hearing began when the property owner presented a plan to cluster eight homes on approximately half of the 10-acre parcel and set aside the other half, which contained wetlands, as open space. On June 17, the planning commission approved the project. Ten days later, Scherer appealed the project. According to a town staff report, the appeal made by Scherer was based on 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. On July 8, Council agreed to hear the appeal because of unanswered questions concerning the open space