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Supes show unanimous support for university development

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County supervisors OK’d Tuesday what amounts to a strong backbone of support for plans that could lead to development of a Drexel University campus in west Placer County. The quiver of contracts unanimously given initial approval by the board includes certification of the project’s environmental documentation. The package comes back to the board Dec. 9 for expected final adoption. Also OK’d was rezoning of 1,158 acres of farmland to allow urban development and a project development agreement. The development agreement details how a regional university envisioned by a property-owners’ group that includes Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos would pay for infrastructure, transportation improvements and county services. The specific plan supervisors support calls for a mixed-use planned community, including 3,232 homes, 1,155 more dwelling units on the university campus, 22 acres of property for commercial uses, and 220 acres of park, open space and public lands. Within that framework, 600 acres will be set aside for university land uses with 357 acres earmarked for the actual learning institution. Sixty acres would be for faculty housing and 184 acres for open space. The university itself would be a private entity, with Philadelphia, Pa.’s Drexel University a strong candidate to accept the land from the Tsakopoulos partnership with Sacramento developer William Cummings and Placer 2780, a limited partnership. The school’s eastern campus now has 21,000 students on an 80-acre site and Drexel has just established a graduate school in Sacramento. The plan received support from the Roseville Chamber of Commerce. Chamber CEO Wendy Gerig said education is “almost recession-proof” and the organization is excited about high-paying education jobs coming to the area. The proposal was criticized by Sierra Club representatives, who said that the project opened up land owned by Tsakopoulos for development by connecting Roseville properties with parcels on the Sutter County line. Terry Davis of the Sierra Club said approvals enhance the likelihood other Tsakopoulos holdings would receive urban entitlements in the future. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.