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Planning Commission split 4-1 on housing development at Sylvan Corners

An image included in Planning Commission documents shows a site layout for a housing development at Sylvan Corners.

By Phillip Pesola–
Citrus Heights Planning Commissioners last week voted 4-1 to forward a series of recommendations to City Council which would allow the development of 94 single-family homes at Sylvan Corners.

Alison Bermudez, Senior Planner for the city, along with Michael LaFortune of Woodside Homes, the project developer, presented the proposed plan in detail during the meeting. The project aims to develop a 94-lot subdivision on an 11.3-acre site located at 7137 Auburn Blvd., formerly home to Sylvan Middle School.

The project consists of small-lot, single-family homes in a mixture of a traditional configurations as well as an alley-loaded configurations with the driveway at the rear of the home. A selection of 18 possible design choices cover a range of colors, exterior materials, and architectural styles, planning documents show.

Seventy traditional units are proposed to be built on lots ranging from 3,000 to 5,100 square feet, while 24 alley-loaded units would be built on lots ranging from 2,625 to 5,725 square feet. According to a staff report, traditional builds would be single-story with single-car garages and two-story units with two-car garages. Alley-loaded lots would be two-story units with two-car garages accessible from a rear alley.

During the presentation, Bermudez highlighted the site’s significance due to its proximity to the “heart” of the city. She also emphasized the city’s goal of having control over the site’s future and ensuring its development aligns with the city’s vision. She explained that the city purchased the site in 2019 in order to be involved in the development process, and that after a selection process, Woodside Homes was chosen as the developer.

Bermudez then discussed the various entitlements required for the project, including a General Plan amendment, a design review permit, a tree permit, and rezoning of the site from low density residential to a Special Planning Area, which would accommodate the unique features of the site and the higher density of the project.

During discussion that followed the presentation, commissioners raised several questions and concerns. Commissioner Tom Scheeler asked about homes facing Auburn Boulevard and the potential noise they may experience due to traffic. LaFortune assured the commission that the homes would be designed to meet required noise standards by using appropriate building materials.

Commissioner Marcelle Flowers asked which of the 94 units would be low-income, and LaFortune responded that 14 affordable units would be dispersed throughout the development rather than clustered in one area.

Vice Chair Natalee Price voiced her concern about the lack of yard space for the alley-load homes facing Auburn Boulevard, saying “their front yard is on Auburn Boulevard, so that doesn’t open a whole lot of hospitality space and socializing.” LaFortune acknowledged the small lot sizes and explained that those residents would have a small side courtyard and access to nearby community spaces.

Price also questioned the project’s benefit to the wider community. Referring to some of the planned amenities, she said “all of those seem to be developed for the benefit of the community that we are developing. Is there an enhanced benefit for the community that’s already in existence?” Bermudez responded by pointing out that the development would not be gated, and that amenities such as the passive recreational areas would be accessible to everyone.

No comments from the public were made during the meeting. A motion to forward the staff recommendations to City Council was made and passed, with four commissioners in favor and Vice Chair Price opposing. The City Council is expected to review the recommendations in October.

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