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Gold Country Plaza Site Plan Extension OK’d

By Jenifer Gee

The developer of Gold Country Plaza Shopping Center received a final one-year extension site plan permit from the Sutter Creek Planning Commission at its Monday meeting.

The development was granted the extension because the commission approved of the reasons why the developer could not meet some of the mitigation requirements in the time frame it was given.

“He actually asked for a two-year extension and we gave him a one-year extension because we´d like to see something done on that corner as soon as possible,” said Frank Cunha, Sutter Creek Planning Commission chairman.

Plaza developer Preferred Properties is also requesting a shopping center tentative parcel map extension, which will be on the Sutter Creek City Council´s Nov. 20 agenda.

Preferred Properties, whose managing member is Dennis Griffin, requested the site plan permit extension because the site has not been able to meet multiple conditions of approval. Griffin cited three main reasons why the site, on Highway 49 and Ridge Road, remains bare and why the development needs the extension in an Aug. 31 letter sent to the planning commission.

Griffin said one reason is the two year time period to design, find tenants, gather city permits and construct the plaza based on the conditions of approval was “insufficient.” The developer has struggled with competing shopping centers selling lots in the area, but now that most of those are sold, they are in the negotiation stages with “serious tenants,” Griffin said.

He also wrote that “the most major setback was Caltrans´ requirement to only allow right in and right out entries at both Highway 49 and Highway 104. This requirement has made it impossible to get major/anchor tenants to consider this location and has resulted in making this location unacceptable as a shopping center.”

Griffin explained to the Ledger Dispatch that this problem is now solved because the area is no longer a shopping center, but a neighborhood center. This change means that stores such as a drug or tractor store and possibly a hotel will be in the center as opposed to a service station or fast food restaurant. The entrance locations make it so if a driver is traveling east on Highway 104, they cannot make a left into the center and cannot make a left into the Highway 49 entrance if they are traveling north on that highway. “That really cut our ingress and egress in half,” Griffin said.

Griffin wrote that the third reason for the extension was due to a lawsuit from Pine Woods Apartments “to prohibit relocation of their emergency access road and P.U.E. (public utility easement).” Griffin said the matter is now settled.

Commissioner Cort Strandberg asked Griffin what his plan was for the center. Griffin said he is still working with Caltrans restrictions and said there would also be some adjustments to the lots.

“The whole area will conform to some kind of design but it´s just going to look a little different,” Griffin said.

While Cunha said he was happy so far with what Griffin has done, he expressed concern over the current visual appearance of the lot and asked if Griffin could clean it up.

“It´s better if we don´t touch it,” Griffin said at the meeting. Griffin later explained that straw is used to filter and clean the water run-off and to stop an overflow of water. He said the trucks and other equipment at the site will be removed this winter.

When the discussion opened to the public, there was little input about the project extension from the small audience of about 10 people.

The commission then unanimously granted the final, one-year permit for Gold Country Plaza Shopping Center that will expire Nov. 15, 2007. If Preferred Properties permit needs additional time by that deadline, they will have to reapply for a new site plan permit, Cunha said.

Reprinted with Permission from the Amador Ledger Dispatch

That really cut our ingress and egress in half..