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Copper Mill Square Environmental Issues Studied

Copper Mill Square developer Castle and Cooke Calaveras will do its own environmental impact report for the 28-acre mixed-use development in Copperopolis at Highway 4 and Little John Road.

Typically, the county would prepare the EIR, said Bob Sellman, acting planning director.

“We felt the county staff, with all the projects they have at hand, couldn´t get it done in a timely fashion,” said Dave Haley, vice president of Castle and Cooke Calaveras.

Castle and Cooke hired Planning Partners, a Sacramento consultant, to draft the EIR. It also will pay $10,000 for the county to hire a consultant to independently review the document before handing it over to the county, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.

The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved using Quad Knopf of Roseville as its consultant.

In the next few days, county staff members will release a preliminary review of the project and what the EIR should include, Sellman said. The notice of preparation will solicit comments from the community on what the EIR should address, he said.

Haley expects to have a draft EIR by Sept. 15. Then Quad Knopf would make recommendations to county staff members, who will make changes and then circulate the EIR for a 45-day public review period, Sellman said.

Planning Partners is already working on the EIR.

When asked for a peek at the report´s findings, Haley said he would comment after the EIR was officially released.

Haley did say the project would not have any traffic impacts on O´Byrnes Ferry Road and Highway 108, unlike the proposed Tuscany Hills and Oak Canyon Ranch subdivisions near Copperopolis in which EIRs described “significant and unavoidable” traffic impacts to those roads.

“We feel there will be no impact,” Haley said. “In fact, we feel it will help reverse that impact. Because our community won´t be forced to go outside Calaveras County to do its shopping.”

Haley´s project proposes Copper Mill Square, an outdoor shopping mall of sorts.

This time next year Haley hopes to have the 10-acre first phase complete, which will include 10 buildings housing 80,000 square feet of retail and second-story lofts.

The entire development will occur in five phases over five years, Haley said. When it´s done, the project will have 30 different structures, he said.

There are no final build-out details.

Project engineers offered a range of what it might look like.

At minimum, it could have 61,654 square feet of retail with 12,000 square feet of office or living space above. This design allows for another 84 residential units totaling 126,000 square feet.

At maximum, the town could have 195,000 square feet of retail with 39,000 square feet of office or living space above with no additional residential units.

Calaveras Enterprise story by: Vanessa Turner. For more Calaveras news, click: calaverasenterprise.com