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Placer supes approve 150-unit Penryn apartment project

4-1 vote rejects appeals by Penryn resident group, town of Loomis
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - The Orchard at Penryn received Placer County Board of Supervisors approval Tuesday.

But leaders in the bid to downsize or stop the 150-unit apartment complex from being developed on Penryn Road near Interstate 80 are saying the fight isn’t over yet.

The board voted 4-1, with Chairwoman Jennifer Montgomery opposed, to deny appeals lodged by the town of Loomis and a group of nearby residents calling themselves Stop 150 Penryn Apartments.

The board’s decision came after nearly six hours of public testimony stretched over hearings in October and November. At the last meeting, three supervisors – Montgomery, Robert Weygandt and Jim Holmes, the board member for Penryn – asked all sides to take another look at several areas, including buffering nearby properties, traffic and drainage.

Holmes cited zoning on the land, which has been on the land since 1981, as a key reason for his support.

“I don’t have the ability to downzone someone’s property unless they request it,” Holmes said. “It pains me to do this because I’m not going to make any friends.”

Montgomery said there was still opportunity to come up with a better project and suggested that she would support a 120- to 130-unit development.

With a new report from staff that continued to support the Orchards plan and some adjustments by the developer in building footprints and added landscaping to lessen impacts on neighboring properties, supervisors Holmes and Weygandt voted to deny the appeal.

They joined supervisors Jack Duran and Kirk Uhler in supporting the project. Weygandt was the last to speak and show his support. As he spoke, about a dozen people in the audience walked out of the board chambers.

Bobby Uppal, a nearby resident who represented the Stop 150 group, said that noise and land-use issues still needed to be addressed. After the meeting, Uppal said the decision was expected and that Penryn-area residents now have a variety of options to consider.

“We’re certainly not going to let it go without a fight,” Uppal said.

Uppal said the group was disappointed with Holmes for voting “against what his constituents want.” Also disappointing was the refusal of the developer to sit down and negotiate with Stop 150, Uppal said.

A court challenge of Tuesday’s decision, starting an initiative drive to sink the project, Penryn breaking off from the county and incorporating as a town, or even annexing into Loomis, are potential options to be considered, Uppal said.

“But it’s too early to tell what direction Penryn is going,” he said.

Marcus Lo Duca, attorney for the San Diego owners of the Orchard at Penryn, told supervisors that key concerns have now been addressed that will still allow a viable project.

“It’s been a very long process – over five years – and every issue has been vetted to an extreme degree,” Lo Duca said. “I think the board looked at that, looked at the work their staff has done and the work the applicant has done trying to address the concerns of both the board and the community to come up with a plan that achieved a positive outcome. I think people will be very pleased when they see the project.”