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Rocklin signals new era of cooperation with Loomis

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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The relationship between Rocklin and Loomis has a storied history going back to the founding of Loomis 25 years ago. But now city leaders from both sides are trying to put the past behind them. “I’ve been meeting with Loomis for well over 20 years,” said former Rocklin mayor and current City Councilman Peter Hill. “This is the first time we’ve come to an agreement on a project.” Loomis and Rocklin officials are partnering on project to widen Sierra College Boulevard from Granite Drive to Taylor Road. The Loomis border begins just past the Chevron station. According to city documents, Loomis has agreed to pay as much as $519,000 for the widening project and Rocklin will get its money from developer fees through SPARTA. Adding the extra lane with room for another future one created some controversy in Loomis, a town that has filed lawsuits to stop development along Sierra College Boulevard and I-80 for years. “There is a catch 22,” said Loomis Mayor Gary Liss. “The design of the road is not nearly as much the issue as proceeding with the improvement and helping Rocklin at the same time that Rocklin is hurting us.” Liss said the vastly different growth strategy of the two municipalities has been the foundation for strife since the town was founded. “Loomis has grown 600 people in 25 years,” Liss said. “We have a beautiful idyllic community here. Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln all wanted to grow and have lots of other stuff. And Loomis incorporated to not have that happen in Loomis.” In the 90s Loomis sued Rocklin to influence the proposed shopping mall at I-80 and Sierra College Boulevard. The project eventually moved to Roseville and became the Galleria. Hill said objections continued as developments flourished in Rocklin and traffic began to increase. “After the mall moved, Loomis still objected to almost all major Rocklin developments,” Hill said. Currently Loomis has four lawsuits pending against Rocklin. They are contesting elements of the development of a new Lowe’s store, Rocklin Crossings, and Rocklin Commons strip malls on Sierra College Boulevard. And then there is Clover Valley. “Loomis would love to see Clover Valley go into plan B, which is a nature preserve,” Liss said. “It would be great if that comes to pass.” Even with the philosophical divide, both sides think they can bridge it. “We’ve had a rocky relationship over the years,” Hill said. “We feel there is a new era. It’s a step in the right direction.” Liss said Loomis wanted to get beyond litigation and instead opted for negotiation. To show Rocklin good faith, they went along with the project. “We don’t want to sue anyone,” Liss said. “That is not something we are happy to do as a community. Cooperation is really listening to each others’ concerns and trying to sort those through.” Rocklin officials said the project will start soon and could give residents from both towns better access to the one million square feet of retail space proposed for the I-80 corridor. Liss said he hopes the project will be a foundation to work out all the other issues they have together. “We’re not out of the woods yet, but we are seeing where the woods end and it’s in Loomis,” Liss said. “The development begins in Rocklin. “