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Roseville may consider joining county conservation plan

Plan would preserve up to 60,000 acres of open space and agricultural land
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Roseville is considering whether joining a plan to permanently conserve open space and agricultural land in western Placer County aligns with the city’s vision for the future.

So far the city has refused to participate in the Placer County Conservation Plan, which was initiated 12 years ago at the request of county supervisors.

The Roseville City Council voiced numerous concerns following a presentation about the plan during Wednesday’s meeting, particularly centered on the city losing some control over future land-use decisions.

Council members did not vote on the item.

“Just listening to you, not to be argumentative, but it sounds like we’re just creating a different bureaucracy to do something that’s already being done,” said Councilman Tim Herman.

Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt attended the meeting to field the council’s questions.

“For me, philosophically, we’re dismantling a portion of state and federal bureaucracy and replacing that with what I would consider to be far more effective, responsive and valued,” Weygandt said.

The plan aims to keep up to 60,000 acres of land from being developed in areas bordering Sutter, Yuba and Nevada counties.

The plan allows for the development of 57,000 acres, while addressing conservation of animals and their habitats to comply with the state and federal laws that protect endangered species and clean water.

“We really see it as a win-win for everybody,” said Terry Davis, director of Sierra Club’s Mother Lode Chapter. “It would establish a portion of the county that would be off-limits to development forever … I think people like the idea of a portion of the county not being subject to development.”

Davis has served on the plan’s stakeholder committee for the past decade. And he sees a glaring hole in the plan: Roseville’s lack of involvement.

“How can you have a plan like this without the county’s largest city involved?” Davis said. “It hurts the integrity of the whole process not to have Roseville on board.”

Currently, the county is collaborating with the city of Lincoln on the plan.

The plan stemmed from an effort to protect sensitive areas biologists call vernal pool grasslands from development. These seasonal wetlands are home to several plant and bird species.

“This has been disappearing in California,” Davis said. “This is a type of habitat we’re losing to development and intensive agriculture.”

More than 90 percent of California’s vernal pools have already been lost, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Much of the developable land in western Placer County contains vernal pools.

“If we were growing into the foothills we wouldn’t have this problem,” said Loren Clark of the county’s planning department, during his presentation to the council. “But we’re growing into grassland, where vernal pools are present.”

Now, environmental groups fight developers’ attempted encroachment into grasslands through litigation, Davis said. The plan offers an end to these court battles.

The plan would provide a streamlined and efficient system for developers to get building permits, supporters say, by transferring permit authority to local governments for 50 years.

The plan would function as a Habitat Conservation Plan under federal law and as a Natural Communities Conservation Plan under state law, which means federal and state agencies have approved the mitigation approach and are assured that conservation actions are implemented.

Weygandt said the county hopes for the plan to be finalized in two years.

Here’s a look at some other items approved during the Nov. 2 council meeting:

Development agreement for Heredia Park: This 2.5-acre pocket park is located in the West Plan area, in the northern corner of Bob Doyle Drive and Songbird Way. Grading, drainage and underground utilities work will start immediately. The park is scheduled for completion in late 2012 and is funded by the developer.

Weed abatement assessments: A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 16, during the council meeting. Owners of private parcels abated by the city are responsible for the costs associated with providing abatement services. If the owner fails to pay, the city places a lien on the property and monies are reimbursed through the property tax collection process.

Single-family residential development impact fee deferral program: The city will extend a program that provides for the deferral of city-controlled development impact fees, which had been scheduled to expire Dec. 31.

Alcohol in city parks ordinance revision: An existing ordinance will be revised to include School House Park and Mahany Park as allowed to serve alcohol in designated areas with a city permit. The council recently approved a long-term lease with Sun City Roseville regarding School House Park. Sun City expressed an interest in serving alcohol at the park during special events, which was not included in the lease.

Traffic adaptive pilot project: Western Pacific Signal will demonstrate its newest traffic adaptive technology as a pilot project in Roseville. There will be no upfront cost to the city. To keep the technology in place, the city would pay $13,785 per intersection, not to exceed $106,150.

Traffic adaptive signal coordination means that traffic is constantly and continuously determining the optimal signal timing plan in real time, and signal synchronization timings are automatically adjusted to minimize delays to motorists.

Grider Court permit parking: Permit parking will be installed on Grider Court for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in response to residents’ complaints that during sporting events at Diamond Oaks Park, vehicles double park in their court, block driveways and prevent homeowners from finding parking spots.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.