Royal Gorge posts new plans online
After project opponents succeeded in prying loose Royal Gorge draft planning documents from Placer County, the developers have now posted the contested documents online for the public to review.
But more challenges lie ahead for project proponents, who expect to file a formal application for the Donner Summit residential development within weeks.
On Jan. 1, Placer County made available about 100 pages of pre-submittal documents, including a draft of the 950-unit project’s specific plan and studies on water, environmental, and other issues.
The Royal Gorge developers uploaded the same documents Friday to their Web site (www.royalgorgefuture.com) for area residents to inspect.
“When we heard the outcry, we thought why not make them available,” said Mike Livak, project manager with Royal Gorge, in an interview Friday at the Sun’s office.
Livak said the release follows the development team’s promise of transparency throughout the process, but suggested it might have made more sense for critics to wait for the formal submittal of the plan.
“History shows these kinds of documents can cause needless or incorrect speculation, and we were concerned about that, but we were more concerned about the suggestion of any impropriety or of being secretive,” Livak said.
The formal application will initiate an environmental review, giving the public opportunity to comment on potential impacts from water usage to traffic congestion, he said.
But Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz said he pushed for public involvement from the very beginning.
“When they first came to me I said, ‘Do yourself a favor and work with the community,'” Kranz said in a phone interview. “This isn’t the old days when you could say, ‘I have this locked up.’ [Those days] are long gone.”
He characterized the Royal Gorge development team’s public outreach so far as a good effort.
“I feel they have made an attempt,” Kranz said. “But they have a ways to go yet; there is still a lot of controversy.”
As for the Donner Summit Area Association’s efforts to create a community plan, Kranz said he doesn’t believe such a plan would make a big difference for Royal Gorge.
The group, through two “Summit Summits” and a survey, have been striving to create a consensus on what residents want for the region’s future. But Kranz said because Royal Gorge takes up so much of the area, the development’s plans will have to answer many of the same questions a community plan would.
“The process wouldn’t look a whole lot different than a community plan,” Kranz said. “It almost becomes the community plan by default.”
While the 950-unit figure has stayed the same for the Royal Gorge Development, project manager Mike Livak said plans for open space have increased from 70 to 80 percent.
The number of shared-ownership units has also been reduced to about 100, Livak said, about 10 to 12 percent of the total units.
More recent studies released with the pre-submittal documents indicate dredging Serene Lakes would not be necessary to supply water to the new development, Livak said.
Royal Gorge plans to sell its lakefront parcels for private residences rather than provide additional beach access, he said.
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