Madera County Development Debate

December 8, 2008 10:55:04 PM PST
Madera County is considering plans to build two large new developments that would bring more than eight thousand homes and the beginnings of a new Valley city.One development would be along the northern banks of Millerton Lake. The second development would be along the north side of the San Joaquin River.

Dozens of people packed this public hearing at the Madera County Board of Supervisors Chambers to share their thoughts on two controversial proposed developments. During a marathon session, the board first considered the Northshore at Millerton Lake Project, which would cover more than 2000 acres and include nearly 3000 homes.

Coke Hallowell lives next to the proposed Northshore Project and is chairman of the San Joaquin River Parkway Trust. She's one of many residents concerned about the development's impact on wildlife, traffic, the local water supply, and the area's overall appeal.

"In the future I think about people who visit the park there, are sailing on the lake, and they're going to be looking at a city on the sides of the hill, and it will just be different," said Coke Hallowell.

After several hours, the board voted unanimously to approve the environmental impact report and most of the other documents that will allow the Northshore Project to move forward.

Friant Development Corp. Planner Jad Dennis said, "We're very happy, we've been working on this project for a long time, as you probably heard, close to five years. A lot of effort has gone into it."

That effort included meeting certain requirements to win support from the Chawanakee Unified School District. However, the district still strongly opposes the other proposed development, known as Tesoro Viejo. The project would consist of nearly 16 hundred acres and more than 5000 homes.

Chawanakee School Dist. Consultant Marshall Krupp said, "They have proposed a number of schools for the project that are smaller than is required by the state and smaller than the district's standards."

The developers are considering using charter schools, and insisted during the hearing that educational needs are a top priority.

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