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They thought it was a permanent nature preserve. Now developer Tsakopoulos wants to build there

Developer Angelo Tsakopoulos arrives Tuesday night, April 29, 2014 to the Sacramento City Council meeting before members voted on the McKinley Village development proposal in East Sacramento on land he owned. In 2017, Tsakopoulos faces community opposition in Sacramento County to a plan to develop open space that neighbors thought would be a permanent nature preserve. Sacramento, Calif.
Developer Angelo Tsakopoulos arrives Tuesday night, April 29, 2014 to the Sacramento City Council meeting before members voted on the McKinley Village development proposal in East Sacramento on land he owned. In 2017, Tsakopoulos faces community opposition in Sacramento County to a plan to develop open space that neighbors thought would be a permanent nature preserve. Sacramento, Calif. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Residents of Sacramento County’s Vineyard area are angry about the prospect of losing open space they thought the county had protected permanently more than 25 years ago.

It turns out the land, known as Silver Springs Lot P, has been owned all along by developer Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, whose company now wants to build houses on it.

“The applicants argued that they had never intended for Lot P to be preserved in perpetuity,” a county report said.

The developer has proposed constructing 48 houses on half-acre lots near Calvine and Excelsior Roads in the semi-rural area southeast of the city of Sacramento.

The plan is scheduled to be heard Monday by Sacramento County’s planning commissioners.

Residents of the Vineyard area thought the 91.5 acres in question had been preserved long ago to protect seasonal wetlands. Buyers paid premiums for houses adjacent to the land, believing it would always be open.

They may have been mistaken.

In 1991, county officials included conditions in a zoning agreement that restricted use of the land to open space and prohibited it from being subdivided. Zoning rules can be changed by vote, however. Stronger legal protections often used for nature preserves were never put in place.

“The Board did not … require the granting of development rights to the County or an in-perpetuity easement or similar mechanism,” said a report prepared for the Planning Commission.

Tsakopoulos has petitioned the county for the right to develop it by repealing the zoning conditions enacted in 1991. The plan also calls for 50 of the 91.5 acres to be set aside as a wetland preserve.

A call to Tsakopoulos’ AKT Development offices wasn’t returned Friday afternoon. The county planner overseeing the proposal referred a reporter to the planning documents.

So far, the proposed development has generated nearly unanimous opposition.

Tim Murphy was chairman of the Vineyard Area Community Planning Advisory Council when it considered the plan in August. Residents in the room were “very upset” about the proposal, he said. Murphy said he had to ask them to keep their anger in check.

Asked for a show of hands, 64 people indicated they opposed the project. Only one man raised his hand in support. He was a builder interested in constructing homes in the area.

“The people were against it because they bought with the presumption that those were preserved wetlands, and a county document says it’s the case,” Murphy said.

The six members of the advisory council all voted to deny the changes that would allow development to proceed and recommended sticking with the 1991 resolution that limited Lot P’s use to to open space.

“I hope that the views and feelings of the community members that reside in the area are taken strongly into account,” Murphy said. “The Board of Supervisors did say these would be preserved acres.”

The Planning Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the County Administration Building, 700 H St., Suite 1450, Sacramento.

Hudson Sangree: 916-321-1191, @hudson_sangree

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