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Rocklin residents speak out against West Oaks Project

Despite resistance, Planning Commission recommends approval
By: Brody Fernandez Of Gold Country Media
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Rocklin residents are speaking out against the city of Rocklin and developers yet again over concerns with a new development being proposed.  

These concerns are focused on where the city stands in relation to the importance of parks and recreation and how residents feel about encroaching developments threatening that cohesive environment.

The new West Oaks project for Rocklin includes four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath urban- styled townhomes. Each will be fitted with a two-car garage and an elevator that extends up to a fourth-level rooftop terrace.

The project is on a 1.1 acre parcel overlooking Kathy Lund Park and adjacent wetlands.

An initial staff description of the project April 13 details why some residents are now up in arms.

The City Council last spring approved the sale of the three lots in question and now a request for approval of a General Plan amendment to change the plan designation from Recreation-Conservation to High Density Residential is on the table.

Gold Country Media has received dozens of emails from concerned Rocklin residents regarding this project over the past several weeks.

 

Emails to Gold Country Media

Rocklin resident Lori Leone, who lives near Kathy Lund Park, said she’s tired of Rocklin leaders allowing developers to change designs after approval.

“The city planners got it right in the zoning of that parcel, as either recreation or a fire station,” Leone said. “The fire station is no longer needed as we have adequate protection in other new stations that were built, so I say leave it for recreation. That parcel is the perfect spot for batting cages, tennis courts, basketball hoops, a skate park, in short anything to bring community, family and neighbors to connect.”

Rocklin resident Eric Domantay stressed that changing recreation-conservation areas in the General Plan to high density residential goes against common sense.

“This will essentially kill our natural wildlife, ruin our beautiful parks, bring congestion to our neighborhood near (Kathy Lund Park) and bring crime into our community,” said Domantay, referencing the low- income housing being built.

 

Resident Nadica Dunkhase’s wrote a letter to the city planning department for public record: “It just came to my attention that the townhomes that my Cresleigh Springs community/neighborhood. The Cresleigh Springs community has come together to try to boycott the advancement of this buildout.  We will get as many signatures needed to ensure the city that we pay taxes to realizes that we are not in favor of these townhomes right next to Kathy Lund Park.

(This parcel) was originally pegged as a dog park and garden which would be highly used by the community. Currently highly used for dog walking and bike trails, lots of children running around for softball and soccer games (also takes place). This change could increase the danger of cars driving in and out of the area. It will prove to be an eyesore contrast the open natural space that is currently there. It will disrupt the current ecosystem that lives there. We noticed bulldozers already on the property yet no decision had been made--at least what the tax paying citizens know of?”

 

Planning Commision meeting

It was a packed house as more than 60 Rocklin residents piled into City Hall chambers Tuesday for the Planning Commission's decision on whether to recommend approval or denial of a General Plan amendment to change the designation of the project site from recreation-conservation to medium high density residential.

The Planning Commission was unanimous in its decision to approve the amendments with the exception of a perimeter fence to be built around the development to address several safety concerns.  

Planning Commissioner Timothy Alatorre voted to approve the amendment, despite some concerns.

“I do feel that there was some fundamental issues with this project in the beginning,” Alatorre said.

In the end, Alatorre commended staff and the developer for steps taken to address concerns from the beginning of the process and Alatorre voted yes to recommend the amendment to the General Plan.  

Planning Commissioner Michele Vass also praised the changes that the developer made to address previous concerns from residents that dated back to 2017.

“Those suggestions came from the folks that were here last year and you addressed it,” Vass said. “I would prefer having a fence along the roadway. I think that would be something we could approve the project with. I initially had concerns with the parking and the developer has addressed that.”

Vass recommended that the developer deliver a clear notice to West Oaks residents that illustrate the elements and noise issues related to living next to baseball and softball fields.

The main concern from residents Tuesday night were centered around the impractical location of luxury townhomes directly next to softball fields.

“I’ve been around Little League and softball my whole life and we always build our fields where it will not impact local residence,” said Rocklin resident Christina Johnson. “We do a lot of cheering when those lights are on late at night and that’s when we will encroach on the development and these future residents. I can guarantee you that one of those 16 residents will eventually sue the city. We can live compatible with that development. But can they live with us?”

Planning Commissioner Michael Barron echoed those concerns.

“Situations like this occur where the city is growing,” Barron said. I thought that the developer has done a great job making revisions. I support this project because the developer has tried to mitigate all of the concerns since the beginning. I think the impact is minimal although I think that it’s a viable concern regarding the issues these residents would have (living next to softball fields.) We don’t want to get ourselves into a lawsuit.”

The West Oaks Project will now move onto the Rocklin City Council for a vote on the project. According to staff, it could be on the agenda as soon as Oct. 1 or in mid-October.