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Supes OK Placer Vineyards plan revision

Roseville area development won’t pay $275 million in infrastructure costs upfront
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Faced with a new financial paradigm since the housing bubble burst, the once-buoyant Placer Vineyards project gained concessions Tuesday from Placer County that allow the developer to no longer pay $275 million upfront in infrastructure costs. No ground has been turned since supervisors unanimously approved a specific plan in 2007 to build residential, retail, office and public facilities on 5,230 acres in western Placer County bordering Sacramento County. On Tuesday, supervisors unanimously approved modifications to the specific plan that allows the project to be phased in over time and infrastructure construction to no longer be fully constructed on the front end for the entire project. In the heady days preceding the 2008 housing-market crash in Placer County, the Placer Vineyards development group – a consortium of 22 different property owning entities – had lofty plans to construct a community of 14,132 residential units, 919 acres of park and open space and 274 acres of commercial development. On Tuesday, the 22 property owners and the Board of Supervisors voted on a plan that recognized up-front payments for infrastructure were not an immediate reality. Plans still call for Placer Vineyards developers to provide the funding to build “core backbone” infrastructure. The list included major roads, trails, water, wastewater, recycled water and lighting. In 2007, Tim Tarron, of the Placer Vineyards Owners Group, estimated that it would require an upfront investment of $275 million before a single building permit was issued. Tarron was back in front of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday – more than four years after their unanimous decision to move ahead with the specific plan – to ask for support of a recommendation hammered out with county staff over much of the last year. “It’s always difficult to get 22 owners to agree,” Tarron said. “But when you get that unanimously, it means something positive.” Supervisor Jack Duran of Roseville said the decision to change course on requiring all core developer fees upfront reflected new economic realities. “As we all know, what we could do in the past can’t be feasible in the future,” Duran said. The plan to allow development – and infrastructure payments – in phases was also given approval by the Planning Commission in September. Ken Denio, a Planning Commission appointee, recused himself from the vote because he’s a co-owner of property that is part of the Placer Vineyards development. Under the revised ground rules for Placer Vineyards, developers of individual projects within the overall plan will submit applications for approval of a phased development. The developers would need to show that infrastructure improvements are adequate to accommodate the proposed phase. And the revisions specify that an individual developer’s right to obtain project approvals would be contingent on that developer paying its share of costs associated with infrastructure and services.