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Residents split on Tulloch proposal

Residents split on Tulloch proposal

Published: December 30, 2005 - Sonora Union Democrat


One year after they were submitted, plans to build 20 new townhomes on Tulloch Reservoir are on hold — and some area residents are split on whether those plans should be shelved permanently.

Developer Merle Holman, of Oakdale, submitted drawings for the Marina Villa Townhomes in January, requesting approval for the plans from the Calaveras County Planning Department.

The department, however, has asked Holman to resubmit a traffic study and consider making a zoning change before the project moves forward. Before the homes can be built, plans must be approved by the department and eventually the county's Board of Supervisors.

Holman proposed building the townhomes on pylons over the reservoir, on a 10-acre lot of shoreline and water off O'Byrnes Ferry Road, just north of the Tuolumne County line. Sixty boat slips are included in the plans.

Several property owners near the reservoir say they welcome the project. But others say they're vehemently opposed, citing already crowded conditions on the reservoir and area roads.

"The lake is already overcrowded and now you're trying to reduce the surface area and it's a formula for disaster," said Jim Hackbarth, co-chairman of the Lake Tulloch Alliance, a group of area property owners concerned about high-density growth on the reservoir.

Hackbarth and Connie Williams, also an LTA co-chair, say county officials should not allow homes to be built out over the reservoir's water, as such projects shrink an already small body of water.

"This is not smart planning," Williams said.

But the fact that the townhomes are planned on pylons over the water isn't holding the project up, said county planners. Property owners on the reservoir's shore are allowed to build homes on pylons over the water because they own the land underneath the water, said John Anderson, a senior planner for the county.

"It's really a complicated lake because of that," Anderson said. "There are only three or four others in the state like that."

Anderson added that the county Board of Supervisors has not asked planners to restrict such projects, a request Hackbarth and Williams say is necessary to control growth on the reservoir.

Don Ratzlaff, the county planner assigned to Marina Villa, said the Planning Department will recommend the project be approved as long as Holman submits a revised traffic study and answers a few more questions.

Holman noted that he plans to turn over a new traffic study and meet the other requirements early next year.

"We have it," he said this morning. "We're just about prepared to submit that."

Michael Gamerl and James Lunsford, two area property owners, submitted letters to the county supporting the plans.

Lunsford said in his letter he and his wife, Sharon, "are very supportive of the project being approved as planned. We believe it to be an excellent use of the site and will be esthetically pleasing."

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