The Sutter County Planning Commission postponed its vote on a proposed subdivision in the rural community of Sutter until its next meeting in mid-July.

During last week’s meeting, commission members heard from county staff and the applicant regarding the proposed project known as Sutter Ranch that, if approved, would divide about 78 acres into 84 lots ranging in size from 0.64 acres to 1.84 acres. The commission also listened to nearly an hour’s worth of comments submitted by residents opposed to the project.

Members ultimately decided to continue the public hearing until their next meeting to allow for all commissioners to review their project packets – some members did not receive reports until the day of the meeting – and to give the public another chance to comment on the project in person if COVID-19 regulations allow for open meetings by next month.

“I haven’t been able to review anything,” said District 3 Commissioner Bert Manuel, who made the motion to continue the hearing during the most recent meeting on June 17. “We have over 300 people who have expressed concerns about this development. That bothers me. They are all from the district I represent. We’ve only had one letter from a person that is for the development in this area, so I’d either make a motion to table or deny, and I don’t want to make a motion to deny until I can go through my packet and make an education decision.”

The subdivision would be located on the east side of town on the north and south sides of Butte House Road between Oak Street and Mallot Road. The acreage is designated as low-density residential and the town was defined in the county’s 2030 General Plan as a new growth area. County staff is recommending the commission approve the project, along with 45 conditions of approval.

Approximately 270 letters were submitted to the county by a group of citizens opposed to the project. The concerns raised included the reduction of prime agricultural land; the project having an adverse impact on public safety, including response times; adding stress to the local water infrastructure; an increase of traffic congestion and greenhouse gas pollution; and an impact to schooling capacities, among other issues.

Project consultants and the applicant, Jeff Helm, answered questions from the commission during the meeting and addressed some of the issues raised by citizens. Helm said the project fits all of the county’s criteria in order to build, and the property has been zoned residential for nearly 30 years.

He said the biggest concern from those opposed seems to be over property rights. He urged the commission to approve the project.

“They believe their rights trump mine. They have a right, which permits them to do whatever they desire to do with their property as long as it’s consistent with county laws and zoning. I too wish to enjoy those same rights and exercise what’s permissible on this property, as long as it fits, agrees and is consistent with the zoning,” Helm said. “I hope all commissioners not only consider my neighbors’ concerns but also my rights to build a project that is already zoned and permissible for residential.”

The commission voted to continue the public hearing until the next meeting on July 15. By continuing the meeting, it will allow additional community members the opportunity to submit comments regarding the project that will be read during the upcoming meeting and will save the commission time by not having to reread all of the comments that were submitted prior to the previous meeting. If meetings are open to the public at that time, community members will also have an opportunity to address commissioners in person.

The July 15 meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside council chambers at Yuba City Hall – 1201 Civic Center Blvd., Yuba City.

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