The land surrounding the amphitheater and new casino being constructed in Yuba County could see a boom in development over the coming years as the Olivehurst Public Utility District looks to expand its water and wastewater services to the Sports and Entertainment Zone and Employment Village.

OPUD received a $50,000 grant from the Yuba Water Agency earlier this week to fund a study looking for the most optimal location for a water treatment plant to serve both zones located along Highway 65 between Olivehurst and Wheatland. The district is also conducting a similar study for wastewater services, which was funded by a Yuba County grant.

“Basically, what the wastewater study is going to do is identify the most efficient route back to our wastewater plant, as well as give us a detailed cost analysis for what the infrastructure will cost,” said John Tillotson, general manager of OPUD. “We are going to do the same thing for the potable water system, except we won’t be identifying a route, rather it’s going to identify a potential plant location and a detailed cost analysis for the infrastructure distribution system.”

The studies are expected to be completed by the end of the year. In the meantime, OPUD is in the process of annexing the area, which is located within its sphere of influence. 

While a complete estimate for both systems will be determined in the cost analysis, Tillotson estimates the costs to be in the tens of millions. The plan is to seek out state and federal grant funding to carry out the projects. 

“Yuba County, the Yuba Water Agency and OPUD are all working together on this because of the jobs it will bring the county. With the casino and amphitheater, everybody wants to be there,” Tillotson said. “We’ve been getting call after call, but they need infrastructure first.”

Since the construction of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain began, the county has received numerous inquiries from local and regional developers about the potential for new businesses in the Sports and Entertainment Zone and Employment Village, which is an industrial area planned for across the highway. In fact, the county’s Community Development and Services Agency has had more meetings and discussions with developers over the past year than they’ve had in the past 10 years combined, said Kevin Perkins, planning manager for Yuba County.

“The investment the Enterprise Rancheria and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino have made in Yuba County is the game changing driver the Sports and Entertainment Zone has needed,” Perkins said. “It has been a really exciting time to see the vision Yuba County had 20 years ago materialize into bona-fide economic development that will benefit the residents of Yuba County and the surrounding region.” 

The Sports and Entertainment Zone was established in early 1998 after county voters approved Measure R, which rezoned about 1,000 acres of land at Highway 65 and Forty Mile Road, according to Appeal-Democrat archives.

Some of the interested developers have talked about providing support services to the area, including gas stations, restaurants and additional lodging. However, no development applications have been submitted to date, mainly due to the lack of infrastructure in that area, primarily with sewer, water and roads.

“OPUD’s proposed annexation of the Sports and Entertainment Zone and Employment Village into their district’s boundaries is the first step in providing sewer and water infrastructure to these areas designated for development,” Perkins said. “Yuba County has partnered with OPUD on the push for water and sewer infrastructure to the area and both agencies are collaboratively seeking funding for a forced sewer main project.”

Once the water and wastewater studies are complete, the infrastructure will need to be designed. Tillotson said the hope is to begin design in early 2020 before initiating construction next summer.

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