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Lazarus Project pitches affordable housing tract

Nonprofit wants to build 46 low-income units next to Loomis RV Park
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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A non-profit group has proposed a 46-unit, low-income rental community in Loomis. The Lazarus Project, Inc. and Mercy Housing asked the Loomis Planning Commission at their Jan. 18 meeting to accept modifications to an already approved subdivision map on Taylor Road, near Sierra College Boulevard. In 2005, the subdivision, located next to Loomis RV Park, was approved for 33 residential lots with 46 living units and 11 commercial lots on 8.9 acres. The property is zoned general commercial and the majority of the residential units were to be owner-occupied. According to a town staff report, the nonprofit group has proposed a 46-unit project for low-income rental housing with detached, single-family homes, duplexes and carriage units. The revisions also call for smaller single-family homes with fewer bedrooms. According to their website, the mission of the Lazarus Project, Inc. is “to meet the needs of the impoverished in Placer County by providing housing and comprehensive support services.” “Participants in our program aspire to be a valuable part of this community, but because of their situation, they are unable to do so without the aid of our organization.” David Loya, Lazarus Project executive director, told the planning commissioners the development would provide subsidized housing for families and single men who aren’t able to pay fair market value for their housing. He said his group also provides additional services to residents. “This is not a handout. It’s a hand up. It breaks the cycle of poverty,” Loya said. Numerous Loomis residents who live behind the proposed project attended the meeting and addressed the commission during public comment. Dave Walter, who lives on Tudor Way, called the development a “sweeping change to the proposed use of the property.” “This is the front gateway to Loomis,” he said. Walter expressed concern about the high concentration of low-income people living in one spot and wanted to know its effect on the community. He also asked what would become of the development if the group lost its state grant funding. Sammie Smith, who also lives on Tudor Way, said she understands the need for low-income housing, but said, “It works out better if (low-income) homes are spread out. Neighbors around you look down on you.” Nancy Beck, of Loomis, said she had “grave concerns” about the project. “Why would a project so large choose this location in a small town of 6,000 people? Why wouldn’t they locate in Roseville where there are jobs, bus service and affordable housing?” Beck asked. Another resident, Hillery Wallis, said, “We want to be helpful, but we want it spread out, not concentrated in one area.” Brian Fragiao, Loomis public works director, expressed concerns about funding from the state that would the project. “The funding is all under state grants. Those are falling apart right now,” Fragiao said. Fragiao also said he was concerned that the group asked to forego the formation of a maintenance district to collect fees to cover on-going maintenance of public landscaping that provides special benefits to those parcels or within those parcels. “If they walk away from this, then we (Loomis) get stuck with the maintenance. This has bitten us before. We don’t have the funding to fix that,” Fragiao said. The planning commission continued the modification hearing and asked the applicants to hold a public meeting of their own to discuss the project with residents. The Lazarus Project has scheduled the meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, in the Fellowship Hall of the First United Methodist Church, located at 6414 Brace Road. Before continuing the matter, Janet Thew, commission chairperson, said, “We have a legal and moral obligation, but I need to be sure this is the best for Loomis. We need a lot more information