Antelope has grown like a doughnut, with a ring of development around a 128-acre field that until recently served as family-owned ranchland.
Now a Sacramento developer is moving forward with plans to develop East Barrett Ranch, and the proposal is generating strong interest and concern among Antelope residents. Residents have high hopes for the last major piece of open land in Antelope because they want a downtown in a community that doesn’t really have one.
“We want something more than just houses,” said Jenny Carrick, chair of the Antelope Community Planning Advisory Council, a citizen panel that makes recommendations on development proposals. “We’re tired of having to drive to Roseville or Sacramento to have a nice dinner.”
More than 200 residents this month crammed into a room at the North Highlands-Antelope Library to hear developer Michael Winn’s plans. The library serves as an Antelope gathering space, nestled between a church and a gas station near a busy intersection.
Winn is proposing to build about 700 homes and retail space for the property that runs about a mile on Don Julio Boulevard between Antelope Road and the Placer County line.
Several residents said they liked how the plans look and hoped the project would attract nicer stores and restaurants to the area.
“I want to be able to stay in the community and spend my money here,” said Scheherazade MacGregor.
But MacGregor and others expressed concern about bringing more growth to Antelope, which saw its population expand by 24 percent in the last decade, up to 45,000.
Residents said they don’t want affordable, multifamily housing, which they said would lower nearby property values. Winn’s plan calls for about 170 apartments.
They also objected to Winn’s plan to keep Don Julio Boulevard as a two-lane road rather than expand it to four lanes, as the county’s general plan calls for. Winn wants to use the extra lane space for a median and bike lanes instead.
County traffic engineers say Don Julio Boulevard is already operating at capacity, and residents said morning commute traffic always backs up there.
A traffic study will determine what type of road will work best for East Barrett Ranch, said Tricia Stevens, a principal planner for the county. The study will also examine other traffic generators, such as Placer Vineyards, another planned mixed-use development about 5 miles northwest of East Barrett Ranch. Placer Vineyards calls for 14,000 homes and retail space.
County planners like the idea of a smaller Don Julio Boulevard, because it would encourage people to safely walk and bike to shops and other amenities in the area, Stevens said.
The area was designated as a future town center in 2007 after the county held a series of community meetings, she said. County officials were interested in the area because they needed land for affordable housing, having been found in violation of state law for not adequately addressing the need in its general plan, she said.
Residents stressed the need for more retail in the area, she said. The plan calls for a “small downtown-style, walkable center that is convenient, useful, safe and attractive for pedestrians.” It also identifies the need for “small-scale retail and other commercial uses” on ground-floor storefronts on Don Julio, Poker Lane and other side streets.
The Board of Supervisors approved the town center plan before Winn bought the property. Stevens said the county approached the Barrett family, which owned the property and had no objections.
Winn said he likes elements of the plan, including the smaller Don Julio Boulevard. However, he is also requesting less commercial and office space than envisioned by the county, going from 17 acres to 7 acres.
He said he’s still early in the planning stages and expects to hold more community meetings before asking the county and other agencies to approve the development. He hopes to satisfy the needs of residents and county officials.
“It’s a delicate balancing act,” he said.