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Council approves Pilot Tree Planting Program

Residents opposed to Homewood project proposal

By: Barry Stigers, Special to The Loomis News
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The Loomis Town Council met Aug. 12 at Veterans Memorial Hall in expectation of a large crowd, hot weather and, with a 17-item agenda, a long evening. All proved to be true. After considerable discussion, the council unanimously approved a Pilot Tree Planting Program that would distribute young trees to households in order to ensure the public benefit of an increased tree canopy, gain shade and beauty, and give equal opportunity for all Loomis residents to have a tree. Pat Miller, a member of the Loomis Open Space Committee, drafted the plan and approached the council about the program earlier this year. The council authorized spending $8,650 from the town’s tree mitigation fund, which has $297,698 in the account, to prepare a document permitting the town to join the Tree City Program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation. Homewood Lumber Company’s plans to move to a new location on Sierra College Boulevard between Taylor and Brace roads were again addressed by the council. The issue before the council was to confirm the planning processes and fees that would be paid to the Town of Loomis. Hamid Noorani, Homewood Lumber proprietor, addressed the council about the latest proposal and discussions that have occurred between him and Town Manager Perry Beck. Noorani told the council he “desires to develop this project” and has” no desire to move from the Town of Loomis, but there are other options.” Several members of the public spoke urging the council to consider the potential loss of tax revenue and local jobs if Homewood decided to move outside the town limits. Residents Stacy Keller, who lives on Howard Lane near the site of the project, spoke in opposition. “My family moved here from the Los Angeles area where there are no trees, and this project will deny us trees we moved here to enjoy,” Keller said. Madelyn Coles told the council she was concerned that the project would set a precedent. Noorani’s proposal is to provide the town with 3.8 acres of property valued at $1,295,454 in lieu of development fees and tree mitigation fees. Town staff recommended to the council that staff be directed to prepare a development agreement for the project and gain input on deal points the council would prefer to have in a draft agreement. The council agreed to the recommendation and appointed a committee consisting of councilmen Scherer and Tom Millward and planning commissioners Mike Hogan and Janet Thew. Commissioner Jean Wilson was appointed as an alternate as Thew would be unable to attend the first meeting. Beck said this week that the good progress was made in identifying the issues at the meeting, held Aug. 13. “Mr. Noorani asked for a follow-up meeting with the committee,” said Beck, and it has yet to be scheduled. The public hearing on the Morgan Estates subdivision approval by the Planning Commission, an action appealed by Vice Mayor Walt Scherer, was continued to a joint meeting of the Town Council and Planning Commission, scheduled for Aug. 19. Morgan Estates is a clustered housing development proposed for Saunders Avenue. The town has been approached by David Melko, senior transportation planner from the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency to outline the implementation of a new consolidated transportation service agency. This agency would serve as a Joint Powers Authority to handle transit operations and associated matters, previously provided by PRIDE Industries. The new agency would provide community transit, medical transportation and a transportation call center. No action was taken by the council. A public hearing on the Heritage Park subdivision for reversion to acreage was moved to the November 2008 meeting. Several residents whose property abuts the project raised concern about the value of their homes if this project is not properly resolved. The Heritage Park subdivision is the subject of foreclosure proceeding by the Umpqua Bank who had a representative in attendance. The representative informed the council the bank is open to guidance from the town in resolving the issues. The council can consider a reversion to acreage, which would have the effect of removing the approved subdivision map from the property and requiring any subsequent owner to submit a new map if they wish to develop the property.