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Project OK'd despite protest

Housing tract removes lots bordering Loomis for oak trees
By: Joyia Emard and Jonathan Brines, Gold Country News Service
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After eight years on the drawing board, the Rocklin 60 housing project has finally won approval from the Rocklin City Council. The Rocklin council unanimously approved the project at their Nov. 23 meeting, despite protests from Loomis Mayor Gary Liss and Loomis Councilman Walt Scherer. The project was approved with a stipulation that the developer determine if staggered setbacks for the home sites are feasible with the terrain. The developer also removed lots along the Loomis border to allow for an open space of oak trees. That open space borders the 3-acre property of Jayne Parker, who lives on Dias Lane in Loomis. "I am delighted about the tree preserve because its right on our property and it makes a big dif-ference instead of five or six houses," Parker said. "The staggering could be an improvement, but who knows if it will happen at all." Peter Hill, a Rocklin city councilman, said the open space area was one of the determining fac-tors in his vote to approve the project. "I think this change is a good change," Hill said. "It's in response to concerns that Loomis had particularly." In October, the Rocklin Planning Commission unanimously rejected the Sierra Holdings LLC proposal for a 170-home project on a 59-acre parcel that borders Dias Lane in the Town of Loomis. The commission said it lacked creativity. The Town of Loomis sent a letter to the Rocklin council on the day of the meeting stating objec-tions to the project because numerous Loomis issues still were not addressed. In an e-mail to the Loomis News, Liss said Loomis didn’t receive Rocklin’s staff report until Friday, Nov. 19, and then had two working days to respond to it. “That's part of the point of having Borders Committee meetings, so we can have more time to review and discuss issues in more detail than allowed through the formal processes,” Liss said. Liss and Scherer spoke against the project at the Nov. 23 Rocklin council meeting in a last-minute appeal to delay approvals. Liss and Scherer expressed concerns over excessive lighting, emergency access and traffic. Hill told the Rocklin council during their meeting that any more delay was unnecessary. "It is not surprising to get a letter from Loomis on the same day as action," Hill said. "I don't think we should do anything with these issues. The environmental impact document is fine. Each of these issues has been discussed at the borders committee." The Borders Committee, comprised of representatives from both the Rocklin and Loomis coun-cils, meets occasionally to discuss issues facing the two communities. With Kathy Lund’s re-tirement from the council last week, Hill is now the only Rocklin member of the committee. According to Hill, during a break at the Rockliin council meeting, Liss demanded Rocklin Mayor Scott Yuill seat a new committee to discuss the issues. In a later interview, Liss said, "They (the Borders Committee) blew us off.” According to Liss, the Borders Committee had met in early October, but the two Rocklin council members refused to discuss the Rocklin 60 project because they said it would be going before the Rocklin planning commission. Liss said he and Scherer were allowed to voice their concerns about the project. Liss told the Placer Herald after the Nov. 23 Rocklin Council meeting, “I hope someone other than Peter Hill is on the Borders Committee. He has too much history," When Hill learned of Liss’ comment, he said, “Understanding the history of projects and dealing with Loomis and having knowledge about what’s going on is not a bad thing.” In an e-mail to the Placer Herald, Hill wrote, "Do they (Loomis officials) now think they have some right to tell us who should be on our committees or is this just some childish game of, 'If we don't get our way we want to change the rules?’" After the meeting, Liss wrote in an e-mail to the Loomis News, “Loomis is evaluating its options now and is awaiting word from Rocklin about whether we will have a Borders Committee meet-ing before December 14,” when the Rocklin council will have a second and final vote on the project. The Town of Loomis took Rocklin to court over the Environmental Impact Report on the project and lost, but there is still time to appeal. "We'll see if the Loomis Town Council can have any better effect on the council in Rocklin," Parker said. "We'll just wait and see." Sierra Holdings spokesperson Chris Vrame said houses won't be popping up anytime soon and groundbreaking won’t take place until after the housing market rebounds.