Orangevale residents battle proposed senior-living complex

Published: Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 - 1:29 pm

Orangevale residents are fighting a senior living development, viewing it as a threat to their "high-quality rural lifestyle," as a community plan put it almost 30 years ago.

The Trellises project would place senior housing and nursing facilities on 40 acres of Hazel Avenue property just south of Placer County.

About 300 residents attended an Orangevale Community Planning Advisory Council meeting late Tuesday to oppose the Trellises. The panel voted 7-0 to recommend that Sacramento County officials reject the development.

"We need to leave Orangevale the way it is," said council member Lisa Montes, eliciting an "amen" from someone in the audience.

If developers decide to continue, the proposal will go to the Sacramento County Planning Commission for approval. The community council also voted to automatically appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors if the commission approves it.

About 300 residents attended the community council meeting to oppose the project. Big crowds attended earlier community meetings as well.

The Hazel Avenue property is zoned for agricultural use and houses on lots of at least two acres. Although the Trellises calls for more units per acre, it would not need a zoning change because a county law allows "congregate care facilities," such as nursing homes, in certain residential areas, according to county planner Tricia Stevens.

As a result, the project needs approval only from the Planning Commission and not the Board of Supervisors.

The crowd cheered project opponents and jeered backers throughout the meeting, drawing constant warnings from Chairwoman Lorraine Silvera, who added that she would not tolerate threats as occurred in prior meetings about the project.

"We're just volunteers," she said.

The Orangevale council is one of 11 community advisory boards that provide recommendations to the Sacramento County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

Dozens of residents spoke against the project during the three-hour meeting, which had to be moved into the gym at the Orangevale Community Center because the large crowd exceeded fire code regulations in the regular council room.

Besides members of the development team, only one resident spoke in favor of the project. He owns land that would be developed.

Residents against the project said they were worried about traffic, flooding, lighting, noise and other problems that it would cause.

More than anything, though, they spoke about a threat to their way of life.

Lynn Schue lives in a home on Hazel Avenue next to the proposed project. She spoke about her children having campouts in their yard and participating in 4-H Club.

"We bought into this community for the rural lifestyle," said Schue, her voice cracking. "With this project, our life will be ruined. This makes no sense."

The council voted against the project even though developers agreed to reduce its size because of prior opposition. As proposed, the project would have about 200 units instead of 400, with housing ranging from independent living apartments to assisted living housing, as well as a center for Alzheimer's disease and other age-related memory problems.

Backers said the project would provide a first-class facility where Orangevale residents could live when they get older.

Some community council members called it a good project, but in the wrong location.

Call The Bee's Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @bradb_at_sacbee.

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