Placer County releases plan to build 13K new homes in land surrounding Thunder Valley

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PLACER COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) -- Placer County has started mapping out 13 square miles of farmland surrounding Thunder Valley Casino Resort for development, including homes for over 13,000 new residents, changing plans envisioned decades ago.

The Sunset Area is a huge chunk of land between Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln, bordered on the east by Highway 65.

A key feature is a 2,200-acre residential area called Placer Ranch, which may eventually include 5,600 homes.

Since the great recession, homebuilding has been a solid part of the economy which fills a housing shortage.

“There’s low-density, medium and high-density residential," said Michele Kingsbury of Placer County Community Resources.

The just-released planning reports not only have housing, but they also set aside zones for light industrial, retail development and even an entertainment district with theme parks surrounding the Thunder Valley Casino.

The Placer Ranch development hopes to be anchored by higher education facilities. A key component of the long-range plan is a satellite campus of Sacramento State that will eventually service 25,000 students on what is now farmland.

The hope is a combined Sacramento State and Sierra College campus will fuel the designated innovation district and high tech businesses that will be located nearby.

But with growth comes quality of life issues like water, air pollution and, of course, traffic.

While often-congested Highway 65 is controlled by Caltrans, planners say current two-lane roads in the area will be expanded to six-lane expressways that will crisscross the Sunset Area plan.

“Your two and four-lane streets as well as your bigger collectors, four-to-six lanes, that’s all planned out to support those uses," Kingsbury explained.

Buffer zones around industrial areas, green belts, bike paths and parkways make the area more livable while increasing job opportunities.

Both students and commuters will spend less time in cars under the master plan.

"Getting those folks off the roadways from commuting down to Sacramento and getting them to live, work and educate in this community is an incredible opportunity," Kingsbury said.

Of course, a vision can always be undone by the execution of the plan that will be done piecemeal over the course of perhaps 30 to 50 years.

As for financing the build-out of the Sunset Area, developer fees and traditional bonding strategies will be used to create the infrastructure upgrades needed for development.

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