New Martis Valley roads still under fire
The Martis Valley Citizen’s Advisory Committee met again Monday, but with the environmental impact report for the Martis Valley Community Plan still a month away, the committee and the approximately 60 people in attendance continued to hammer away at Placer County’s proposed intention to expand and connect the major roads in the valley.
The Placer County Planning Department is the lead agency in the formulation of the Martis Valley Community Plan, an updated version of the 1975 Martis Valley General Plan.
On Feb. 25, the Citizens’ Advisory Committee passed a motion opposing the proposed expansion of Shaffer Mill Road to four lanes. Highway 267 has also been proposed to expand to four lanes.
The 12-member committee is, however, purely advisory and can only make recommendations to the Placer County Planning Department.
The Martis Valley Community Plan seeks to guide development and address “new environmental and land issues.”
Placer County Planning Director Fred Yeager said a revised draft of the plan should be out within two weeks, with a draft environmental impact report for the plan due out by the middle of April.
The preliminary draft calls for the expansion of Highway 267 to four lanes from Interstate 80 to Northstar-at-Tahoe with stoplights at Shaffer Mill Road and at Northstar Drive.
In addition, the plan is not only looking to widen Shaffer Mill Road; it calls for its extension to Big Springs Road in Northstar.
The draft plan also calls for the connection of at least two roads within the Sierra Meadows neighborhood to Shaffer Mill Road.
While those expansions have been the bane of the committee as of late, Placer County Associate Engineer Richard Moorehead defended the road expansion, telling the committee, “We have been given a land-use model, and we have to determine what road system is it going to take to accommodate those uses.”
Moorehead and Placer County Deputy Director Rick Dondro were also asked by those in attendance how many of the 6,800 new homes allowed by the plan in the valley would have to be eliminated in order to avoid the proposed expansions and connections.
Both Dondro and Moorehead estimated that a 25-percent reduction in the number of new residential homes could avoid the need to expand Highway 267 to four lanes and make some of the internal road connections currently proposed.
“I think it was encouraging that people are making the connection between all the traffic and the land use designation,” Tom Mooers of Sierra Watch said afterward.
Many of the new homes allowed in the plan would be in gated communities with golf courses, including the proposed developments of Eaglewood, Hopkins Ranch, Waddle Ranch and Martis Ranch.
The latter is a 1,360-unit development proposed by Sierra Pacific Industries on land near Martis Peak and Brockway Summit.
Yeager said the SPI proposal would be included in the Martis Valley Community Plan, but with the stipulation that the land would remain in Timberland Production Zoning for at least 10 years.
However, Yeager said afterward that SPI could still ask the state for an immediate rezone, a scenario that Martis Ranch Project Manager Gerry Kamilos said was “a definite possibility.”
Northstar also has plans, in various stages of review, for employee housing dormitories, expansion of the village (including 200 residential units), a new parking lot and a new restaurant.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 29 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.
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