Sentinel staff report–
A proposal to temporarily ban development at Sunrise Mall was pulled from the agenda during Thursday’s council meeting, with the City Council instead opting to pursue a General Plan amendment dealing with future development in the mall area.
City Manager Chris Boyd told the council during the May 23 meeting that a 45-day moratorium on development at the mall had been originally put on the agenda for the council’s approval, but he said staff had later determined the best course of action would be to initiate a General Plan amendment to comprehensively guide redevelopment at the aging and under-utilized Sunrise Mall property.
See prior story: City proposes temporary ban on development at Sunrise Mall
“Really, the reason behind that is: we’ve been involved in active conversations and looking at additional information and data,” Boyd said in a brief explanation as to why staff had pulled the moratorium item from the agenda. He also told the council the moratorium is still “in our back pocket for now,” and noted that the council “retains the ability and the right to implement a moratorium in the future, if the circumstances dictate that.”
A special meeting agenda was published the day before the council’s regular May 23 meeting, allowing for the late addition of the General Plan amendment to be considered by the council for action.
The agenda item took up less than five minutes of the two-hour council meeting, which addressed other issues including a vote to purchase the old Sylvan Middle School lot. The only comment from the council regarding the mall came from Councilman Steve Miller, who said he wanted to ensure “we go through great lengths to involve the public on this issue.”
The council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution initiating an amendment to the General Plan. The resolution states that “any future development in the Sunrise Mall area should occur in a comprehensive manner and not in a piece-meal fashion.” It also says “a new vision is needed to comprehensively plan for future redevelopment and revitalization in the Sunrise Mall area.”
The resolution directs the city’s Community Services Director to initiate the amendment “within a reasonable time” and to also prepare any necessary studies or reports.
The General Plan amendment process is expected to be completed in less than a year, according to Katherine Cooley, assistant to the city manager. A draft amendment will first go before the Planning Commission, followed by a final vote from the City Council.
Cooley told The Sentinel in an email on Friday that there are no development proposals or permits currently being reviewed by the city in the mall area, although the city has received several inquiries about development in recent months.
The 45-day moratorium would have temporarily barred any proposals regarding “land use entitlement, subdivisions, and building permits within the Sunrise Mall property,” giving staff time to determine how best to address future development at the site.
In a further explanation for the city’s decision to pull the proposed moratorium from the May 23 agenda, Cooley said the decision was made following “communication with key stakeholders involved in the mall.” She said the city is “making decisions as information presents itself and talks with various property owners continue,” with a goal to craft a “long-term plan that will be beneficial to our community.”
Sunrise Mall has been a key focus of city leaders, with a staff report calling the 100-acre mall property an “economic and social cornerstone” of Citrus Heights. The report said roughly 30 percent of the mall is now vacant, with overall sales steadily declining.
Representatives for the Sunrise Mall and Sunrise MarketPlace told The Sentinel on Monday that they did not have any comment regarding the proposed moratorium. Namdar Realty Group, which owns a large portion of the mall property, did not reply to an email and phone request for comment.
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