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Copper tweaks community plan

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Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 8:39 am | Updated: 8:48 am, Tue Feb 12, 2013.

Tuesday evening’s Copper-opolis Community Plan Advisory Committee meeting was a struggle for semantics among those present at the town’s fire district training room. A mix of community members, developers and planning staff filled all available seats to review the Copperopolis Community Plan’s 11 draft policy statements.

“You’re here to set the framework,” said County General Plan Coordinator Debra Gillarde to an audience of about 20, mostly developers. She explained that each policy should be unambiguous and create direction for potential growth in Copperopolis.

Policies were worded to directly support the community plan’s overall goal of retaining the town’s “country character” and protecting the natural landscape while integrating new development in a way that expands Copperopolis residents’ quality of life.

While most present agreed that Copperopolis’ rural qualities were of the utmost importance, debate centered heavily on the use of certain words and terminology deemed too specific or not specific enough to meet future community needs.

“What does historic mean?” asked resident Linda Stefanick about a policy encouraging “historic design elements” to be incorporated in new development. “What ‘historic’ means to you might differ from my vision of ‘historic.’”

Words like “historic” and “preserving” were deleted from certain statements, regarded as too exclusive and prohibitory to potential new development.

Other policies were expanded, such as adding lodging to accepted uses within a village center and specifying Gopher Ridge as a vital visual resource to be included in scenic value preservation.

“The purpose of the community plan is to let developers know what we’re looking for,” explained County Planning Director Rebecca Willis. “I like how these (policies) shine a light but aren’t so handcuffed.”

John Buckley, executive director of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, expressed that, as “one of the only potential litigators in the room,” he was pleased with the document.

“I don’t think anything in here is too extreme. You’ve got generic wording getting across policies. I’m very impressed.”

Larry Hoffman, who owns Gallerie Copper in Copperopolis Town Square, echoed Buckley’s compliments. “I can’t believe that a local group of people could create a document that reads so well,” he said.

The advisory committee approved all alterations made to the draft statements as recommended by Willis and opted to wait to schedule upcoming meetings while the Planning Department works on releasing the second draft of the county’s revised land use map within the next month.

“We’re going to go dark for a little bit,” said Steve Marks, committee chairman.

Once draft two of the land use map is released, a comment period will be open to public suggestions. In the meantime, District 4 Supervisor Debbie Ponte – who was in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting – will be conducting a public outreach campaign aimed at informing Copperopolis residents about the work completed by the advisory committee over the next few months.

“I personally don’t think there’s been enough public outreach. There are a whole bunch of other people with no clue (regarding the Copperopolis Community Plan),” said Ponte. “We’re going to take this show on the road so to speak.”

Ponte plans to visit with homeowners associations, school and church groups and other community organizations and individuals who may have a vested interest in the future of Copperopolis’ future.

To view the Copperopolis Community Plan policy statements, visit the Board of Supervisors section of the Calaveras County website at and click on the “Commissions and Committees” tab.

© 2015 Calaveras Enterprise. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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