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Ione Council Signs JTS Agreement

By Sean Rabe

The Ione City Council entered into a development agreement with JTS Communities last week that spells out exactly how the company will build out its 181-acre project.

The agreement, which contains provisions regarding the financing of the development´s share of improvements to the city´s wastewater treatment plant and the advance payment of impact fees to the city for police and fire protection, was adopted with a unanimous 5-0 vote.

JTS Communities plans to build-out the remaining portion of the Castle Oaks project, which will include 508 single family residences and 217 multi-family residences. The project also includes 100,000 square feet of retail commercial space.

As for the homes to be built in the project, JTS Project Manager Rob Aragon said there will be two lines to chose from.

“We´ll have the JTS Premier Series and the Master Series,” he said. “The Master Series is what would be built around the golf course, with sizes ranging from 1,800 square feet to 3,000 square feet.” The Premier series will feature homes ranging in size from 1,400 square feet to about 1,800 square feet, he added.

The city´s planning commission approved a tentative subdivision and conditional use permit for the project last month. The city had already approved a previous tentative map and development agreement for the project in 1989 which would have allowed the Castle Oaks Golf Course and up to 670 single family homes to be built, plus 360 multi-family units and up to 25 acres of commercial space. Only the golf course and 215 of the single family homes were built, however.

The development agreement itself spells out how and when JTS will provide funding for various improvements needed for the city to accommodate the development.

“This agreement protects the developer and the city to make sure certain improvements are done on schedule and in a timely manner,” City Administrator Lou Pietronave said. “Basically, the developer is fronting the cash needed for the improvements they need. They´re not paying more than they would otherwise be paying, they´re just paying up front.”

According to the agreement, JTS will pay up to $5.54 million toward the cost of upgrading the sewer plant, which is equal to the amount of sewer connection fees that would be required at full build out of the JTS project. In return, the city must provide the developer with “will-serve” letters for the entire project.

Additionally, the developer has agreed to pay $507,500 at the time the first building permit is issued for police and fire impact fees. The project will also pay $133,930 in up front building permit fees; $225,793 in up front traffic fees and will create a one-acre city park near the Edgebrook and Castle Oaks subdivisions.

The developer will also make an advance payment of $75,000 for the development of affordable housing when the first building permit is issued and will pay an additional $53,125 when the 251st permit is issued. An additional $53,125 will be paid when the project is fully built out.

The agreement also states that if the developer receives the proper clearances from state and federal regulatory agencies, it will construct a two-lane interim city bypass through the project from Shakely Lane, through Castle Oaks Drive to Five Mile Drive.

Speaking specifically about the project, Aragon said JTS saw a great opportunity in Ione.

“We like golf course communities and we think this is one of the most beautiful golf courses in Northern California,” he said. “And, to be frank, the Castle Oaks neighborhood is a very well-kept community and fits the style of what we like to do. We were struck immediately by this community.” He added that JTS was glad to be able to help resolve the Mello-Roos bond issue as well.

While the bond issue was discussed at last week´s city council meeting, City Attorney Guy Reynolds told the council that the development agreement and the bonds were two separate issues and should not be linked together when making a decision on the agreement. The council requested that the city´s bond counsel come to the next council meeting, scheduled for August 16.

Aragon said grading has already commenced on the first 59 lots of the development, including the remaining portion of Edgebrook Estates, which JTS is also developing. The company is also building a sales pavilion on Castle Oaks Drive that will service the two developments. He said the company should be building the first homes by the end of this year, with residents moving into those homes around Spring 2006.

The development is slated to be built in phases, with market demand and the availability of infrastructure predicating when homes will be built. Aragon estimated the project should be fully built out within five to seven years.

Reprinted with Permission from the Amador Ledger Dispatch