All is not well in Yankee Hill

Residents concerned about new self-storage complex
By: Jon Brines, Special to The Placer Herald
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Nestled behind railroad tracks off Pacific Street and Americana Way in Rocklin is a two-street housing development called Yankee Hill. Today a dead end for hapless drivers, this summer that will change when a proposed 209,862-square foot mini storage and light industrial complex is built adjacent to a row of homes. “Does anyone want a self-storage next their house, ‘probably no,’” said homeowner Tom Keefe who lives on the edge of the proposed project. “We always knew this huge chuck of land was available and we were all hoping it was going to be homes, but with the economy, that’s not realistic anymore.” Keefe’s homeowner association worked with Rocklin’s Planning Commission to address things like lighting, how many trees were going to remain, building a tall enough wall and what was going to be done with nearby wetlands. “Before I even bought the property I talked to the homeowners and showed them the site plan, elevations and what they would see from their backyard,” said Thomastown Builders developer Tom Smith. One of the main issues was extending Americana Way to Del Mar Avenue. Currently there is only one way in or out of the development and it is frequently blocked by a train. For Councilman George Magnuson, adding the second outlet sowed up a safety issue. “We’ve got many complaints from the residents in the past when the train is backed up and they can’t get in and out of their subdivision,” Magnuson said. “We had a problem one time before when there was an emergency with a gas leak. So I am very pleased to see this safety issue is finally being resolved.” As a condition with the city, the Auburn-based developer agreed to pay for signs and a roundabout on Americana Way to discourage large trucks from exiting his complex through the housing development. “These folks don’t want to be the shortcut thoroughfare,” said Yankee Hill HOA President Franklin Burris. “That would be a dramatic change from a dead-end street.” For Keefe, he’s reluctant to show support and is concerned with the viability of the business. “Am I happy about it? Absolutely not,” Keefe said. “With the economy right now, is anybody going to put stuff in self storage?” The Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln area has about a 14.5 percent vacancy rate for all types of industrial property, which amounts to more than 20-million square feet of available space, according to CB Richard Ellis, which issued a Sacramento area industrial market report for the first quarter of 2009. That’s up about 4 percent since 2006. While the city council did not address that concern, they did vote unanimously to approve the project last Tuesday. “I must say I was concerned about this project at first, but then I found out who was building it,” Councilwoman Kathy Lund said. “I was very pleased with what happened with Rocklin Self Storage. Its clone and the neighbors are happy with it.” Eleven years ago, Smith avoided controversy when he built Rocklin Self Storage on the corner of Stanford Ranch Road and Fairway Drive by deeding adjoining land. Today some homeowners enjoy an additional 30- by 100-foot parcel instead of an easement between the properties. “I deeded the property to the owners to be a good neighbor,” Smith said. “It gives the project better aesthetics and it will look like it fits in the neighborhood.” Steve Black still owns a house that backs up to the wall of Rocklin Self Storage and said the noise from Stanford Ranch Road turned out to be a bigger nuisance. “An easement would have been useless.” Black said. “Monitored, landscaped; (Smith) was willing to do whatever. He builds them to keep them.” According to the architect for the new project, all of the neighbors on Americana Way adjacent to the property have signed an agreement that would deed them at least 30 extra feet to their backyards. Burris however, said many homeowners are not prepared for the additional property taxes that come with the added land. “It is a pretty good chunk of the lot, maybe a 20 to 25 percent addition,” Burris said. “I’m not sure those people know what they’re getting themselves into. The developer is basically turning (the land) over to these people so they’ll pay the taxes and maintain it.” For Keefe, he’ll wait and see what happens when the project breaks ground in August. “Would I prefer it to be something different? Yeah,” Keefe said. “If it betters our city, I’m all for it.”