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Union Democrat Story on Community Plan

Group finishes Copper plan

Published: August 8, 2005


After 13 years of meetings, surveys, delays and frustrations, Copperopolis finally has a community plan.

The 54-page plan is a guide to the town's growth and details what direction Copperopolis should go in terms of commercial and residential development, transportation and more.

"It's taken what most people might think as far too long to bring this thing forward, but there have been reasons for that," said Russ Thomas, Copperopolis Community Plan Update Committee chairman. "The fact that we hung in there and have a plan that's essentially complete is probably the most remarkable thing."

The county is required to adopt comprehensive, long-term plans for communities' development so that future planning decisions may be based on that plan.

Thomas said most residents, when surveyed, said they moved to Copperopolis for a slower, more rural way of life.

But the current county General Plan — an overarching land-planning document taking in all of Calaveras County — envisions Copperopolis being able to accommodate a population of 100,000, Thomas said.

The new community plan, if followed, would ensure Copperopolis' 39 square-miles don't hold more than about 35,000 people, he said.

The committee said it expects more than 11,000 homes to be built in Copperopolis by 2023. Copperopolis has about 1,500 homes now, according to 2000 U.S. Census data.

The community plan specifies where commercial development should take place: in historic Copperopolis, at the intersection of Little John Road and Reeds Turnpike and the intersection of Copper Cove Drive and O'Byrnes Ferry Road.

The plan's section on residential use states new homes should minimally disturb the environment and match the rural and historic nature of the community.

It also says property owners and developers should be encouraged by county officials to add to the county's stock of low- and moderate-income housing.

The plan's chapter on open space and natural resources asks that new developments provide their own water systems, to ensure an adequate water supply.

Smaller, intensive agricultural uses are to be encouraged, as are foot and bike paths. And, to preserve "enjoyment of the nighttime visual environment," the plan asks that lighting be limited to the least amount necessary.

The plan's chapter on economic growth asks that job-generating land uses and tourism-oriented industries be encouraged.

Many other elements are included in the plan, which can be viewed at http://ccwstor.co.calaveras.ca.us/publish/planning/CopperCommunity/coppercommunity_1.html.

Thomas said the next step is for the county planning department to schedule town hall meetings, likely during September, and then complete an environmental impact report. Then, the Copperopolis Community Plan will be considered by the county Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

He said the project wouldn't have been possible without a $40,000 grant the committee received from the Great Valley Center in Modesto, which supports groups that promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of the Central Valley.

The group used the money to hire land and community planners to help them put the plan together and survey the community.

Thomas also gave kudos to interim county Planning Director Bob Sellman and Planner Julie Russell, who also helped get the group "whipped into shape."

Contact Erin Mayes at emayes@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4539.

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