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Low-income senior housing proposal moves forward, despite opposition

A map shows the location of a proposed senior housing project in Citrus Heights.

Sentinel staff report–
Citrus Heights planning commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday night to recommend approval of a 110-unit senior housing project on Fair Oaks Boulevard, despite opposition from some residents in the neighborhood.

The project now goes to the City Council for another public hearing and a final vote.

Tim Schaefer, the Planning Commission’s vice chairman, told The Sentinel he shared some concerns expressed by residents during a public hearing held on Wednesday, but ultimately voted in favor of recommending the project be approved.

“We may say as planning commissioners that we like a project or don’t like a project, but that’s pretty irrelevant,” Schaefer said in a phone interview on Saturday. “If it meets conditions listed in the General Plan and Zoning Code, then we can’t say no — that’s the bottom line.”

Objections to the project include concerns with increased traffic, removal of healthy trees, complaints about density and limited parking spots planned, the three-story design, location of garbage containers and cut-through traffic. Concerns were raised by residents during the Oct. 23 Planning Commission meeting, as well as in letters and emails sent to the city that were obtained by The Sentinel.

Schaefer said some concerns were addressed by the developer, including the relocation of a garbage container, a controlled gate to minimize concerns with cut-through traffic, and an increased setback of 50 feet from the property line for three-story buildings.

The Sentinel reached out on Saturday to several representatives of the Birdcage Heights Neighborhood Association, where the proposed project location at 12057 Fair Oaks Blvd. is situated, but was not able to reach any residents for comment.

Although noting his concerns with parking for the project — which calls for 107 spots to serve all 110 units and guests — Schaefer said the city has limited senior housing options and he believes the project will be “a huge benefit to the community.”

He also said the developer has stated that transportation for senior residents will be paid for or provided by management.

As previously reported by The Sentinel, the developer, Roseville-based Ionic Enterprises, Inc., is seeking to construct a total of 10 residential buildings and one community building at the site, located about a half-mile from Madison Avenue near Sunrise East Way. All units would be restricted to seniors over 55 years in age.

Plans call for 42 one-bedroom units with 599 square feet and 68 two-bedroom units with 823 square feet each. A 2,300-square-foot community room is also shown in a site plan.

The proposed design calls for a looped walking path throughout the development, community and rose gardens, fitness stations, a dog play area, fountain area, and multi-purpose courts. An on-site manager would also occupy one of the units.

Buildings would be a mix of one, two and three story designs, with architecture featuring ranch-style roof pitches. Structures would range in height from 10 to 40 feet and are proposed to be located a minimum of 20 feet away from adjoining property lines. A masonry wall and landscaping is also proposed to provide a visual buffer.

Low-income affordable housing is classified as being reserved for those earning less than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), while “very low income” housing is for those earning less than 50% of the AMI. According to a city staff report, 60% of the area median income currently equals $45,180 per year for a three-person household and $35,160 per year for a one-person household.

As all units qualify as low-income (98 units) or very low income (11 units), with the exception of one manager’s unit, the project qualifies for up to three concessions.

The Planning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend approval of the concessions, which include a reduced setback for parking in one portion of the plan, and an encroachment on a required landscape planter to allow enough room for a fire department turnaround area.

The third concession seeks to reduce the number of required parking spots to 107 spaces, instead of 121 parking spots specified by the Zoning Code.

A site plan shows the location of proposed buildings, along with areas where concessions are sought. // Image source, Planning Commission agenda

Commissioners opted to go with a city staff recommendation to approve the concessions. A staff report said the applicant had sufficiently demonstrated that without the concessions, three buildings and 21 units would have to be eliminated, making the projected no longer “economically feasible.”

Commissioners also voted to recommend approval of a tree removal permit and a request to rezone the property from RD10 to higher density RD20, which allows for 20 units per acre — or 99 units at the 4.95-acre site location. Approval of a “density bonus” was also recommended by the commission in order to bring the total up to 110 units on an RD20 lot, which is allowed for certain affordable housing and senior housing projects.

The Planning Commission’s recommendations will be considered by the City Council in December where a public hearing will be held, along with a final vote.

Want to share your thoughts on this project or housing in Citrus Heights? Click here to submit a letter to the editor for publication.

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