The Olivehurst Public Utility District has plans to establish water and sewer infrastructure in the Sports and Entertainment Zone in Yuba County, which is expected to help drive development in the area where an amphitheater and new hotel and casino are already located. 

The area is currently outside OPUD’s sphere of influence. The district needed to have the Yuba County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) sign off before any work could be completed, which they received during the commission’s most recent meeting on Jan. 8. 

“LAFCo approved the resolution for a minor sphere of influence amendment and then the resolution for annexation,” said John Tillotson, general manager of OPUD. “We have a few minor items assigned by LAFCo to receive the certificate of completion but we are well on our way. We will be looking for funding to complete the design work first and then the actual infrastructure.”

Before LAFCo makes the annexation official, or issues a certificate of completion, OPUD will first need to meet a few requirements. Because the area is located within the boundaries of the Brophy Water District, a change of organization approving the detachment from the Brophy Water District must be established. 

OPUD must also pass a resolution ensuring the territory will be detached, which must also be approved by LAFCo. 

OPUD must also enter into an agreement with the county to ensure preservation of prime farmland. 

A dedication ratio of 1-acre converted to 1-acre dedication of permanent easement within Yuba County having soils of equal productive value, or higher, through permanent agricultural easements, purchase of development rights or donation of mitigation fees to an ag land trust or a conservancy will also be required.  

Lastly, OPUD will have to make a payment to the State Board of Equalization for the annexation. 

As long as the conditions are met within a year, and LAFCo doesn’t receive any requests for a reconsideration of the decision by Feb. 8 – similar to an appeal process – the commission will record a certificate of completion and the property will be officially annexed, said John Benoit, executive director of Yuba County LAFCo. 

Tillotson said the process could take a couple months to complete.

A rough estimate for the cost of installing water and sewer infrastructure in the area is in the $33 million-to-$40 million range. OPUD is currently in the processing of having two detailed engineering studies done that, once completed, will give the district a better idea of how much the improvements will cost. 

Tillotson estimates the studies to be completed this week.

Currently, OPUD is hoping to have the construction of the infrastructure completed by the end of 2021. Tillotson said his team plans to seek grants and loans to help fund the project.

“We will explore many options with our partners from the county and Yuba Water Agency,” Tillotson said. “…OPUD and our partners are poised to do something great here. Investing in infrastructure in our community to bring growth and employment is what everyone is pulling for.”

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. 

Since then, the Toyota Amphitheatre and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain have been constructed within the zone. 

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