Council weighs specific plan for Folsom growth area

By: Andy Morin Mayor of Folsom, Special to the Telegraph
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At our regularly scheduled City Council meeting on June 14, city staff will present a specific plan proposal for our Sphere of Influence growth area south of Highway 50. The specific plan is required prior to an application to annex this area into our city limits from unincorporated Sacramento County. I invite members of the community to view and comment on this presentation that represents years of careful preparation. Folsom’s current city limits encompass 24 square miles. The proposed growth area bounded by Highway 50, Prairie City Road, White Rock Road and the El Dorado County line is about 6 square miles, representing a potential 25 percent increase in the physical size of our city. Coincidentally, our last major annexation area was about 6 square miles. Originally planned in the 1980s, that expansion today includes the Parkway, Empire Ranch and Broadstone. It is important to note that area is still not completely built out after more than 25 years. Just as our 1980s City Council planned that growth to improve upon previous growth efforts, we are committed to doing the same and making the new area better yet. Now, after 12 years of planning, public review and debate — and even a citywide election — the City Council is poised to adopt a specific plan for how Folsom will grow south of Highway 50 over the next 20 to 30 years. Typically, a developer will design a project and bring it to the city for review, revision and adoption or rejection. This plan is different. It is the product of unprecedented citizen input; dozens of community meetings, and significant changes pushed by city staff and elected officials. And, it meets the test of the following extraordinary guidelines: • Measure W, approved by Folsom city voters in 2004, minimizing the impact of future development in the Planning Area on existing residents, requiring that the full cost for water, schools and roadways be borne by the new area and preserving 30 percent of the area, or more than 1000 acres, as permanent open space. • Folsom’s public Visioning Project in 2004-05 and the resulting Annexation Concept Plan adopted by the City Council in 2007 to guide development of the area. • Smart Growth principles adopted by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and SACOG’s Blueprint Plan to lessen environmental impacts of future development through development contiguous to existing urban areas, comprehensive transit and transportation measures, employment and housing balance, and proximity of commercial and other support services to residents. • Water Forum Agreement principles designed to protect American River flows, to protect groundwater and to retain water within the region. We also must keep in mind that this is just the beginning. It will be several years before any significant groundbreaking happens, and much of it won’t occur for 20 or more years. And most important, any individual project in the area must go through another round of community review, environmental assessment and approval by the City Council. We continue to hold ourselves to the highest standard in the region as we grow responsibly. Does Folsom need to expand south of Highway 50? No. We do not rely on growth to sustain the city. This has been excruciatingly evident during this recession where not only has revenue growth stopped but contracted significantly. However, it is in our best interest to exercise our local control to dictate what the future will look like in an area that regional officials have identified as a projected area for growth. Annexation will preserve this control for the future of Folsom. Andy Morin is the mayor of Folsom.