Home Building on Preserved Wetlands Approved by Sacramento County Planning Commission

ELK GROVE -- A victory for a property developer and disappointing news for homeowners as the Sacramento County Planning Commission approves a proposal to turn a wetland preserve known as Silver Springs Lot P into a new housing subdivision.

Despite the Sacramento County Planner's recommendation not to greenlight new construction in the Vineyard community, Monday night the planning commission approved the 48 home proposal.

Before attending Monday night's meeting, Sacramento County resident Mike Hughes told FOX40 one of the best things about the acre of land he calls home is the more than 90 acres of open land behind it.

Hughes was one of the first to move into the Silver Spring subdivision near Calvine and Excelsior Roads near the Elk Grove city limits. He said he paid a premium for his location 17 years ago because he was promised the land behind him was, and always would be, a protected wetland. However, it appears that wasn’t true.

AKT Development Corporation, the company that owns the wetlands is proposing to turn half of it into another housing development and preserve the remaining half as wetlands. More than a dozen Silver Springs residents turned out to Monday's planning commission meeting to voice their opposition to the proposal.

Earlier in the day, Shaiesta Rauf says she also bought her property believing she would never have neighbors behind her. She says she fears her scenic view and property value is at risk with the proposed development.

However, AKT tells FOX40 they never promised not to build on Lot P. Silver Springs homeowners, however, did not buy their properties from AKT. They bought them from a third-party home builder -- JTS Communities. Documents submitted to the planning commission by AKT show AKT expressing concern that JTS sales associates were telling buyers Lot P would not be developed.

In a letter dated August 7, 2000, AKT Chair Angelo Tsakopoulos wrote to JTS President Jack Sweigert saying in part, "This letter is confirming our telephone conversation during the week of July 24,2000 regarding my concerns that JTS's sales personnel were making representations that Lot P is a preserve and will not be developed... As you know from the numerous meeting in which you , Bill Greer of JTS and JTS's attorney, George Kammerer were involved, it has always been AKT's intention to develop Lot P..."

That letter went on to say, "You acknowledged that you were aware of our intent to develop Lot P and JTS's sales personnel were mistaken in their representation that Lot P "was a preserve in perpetuity" or "would never be developed."

August 10, 2000, Sweigert responded to Tsakopoulus saying in part, "every buyer signed two different disclosures regarding Lot P."

During Monday's meeting, the County Planner said the county had not confirmed whether buyers were in fact informed of the intention to develop Lot P.