Battle Being Waged Over Development in El Dorado County

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EL DORADO COUNTY -- A David vs. Goliath campaign battle is being waged over two ballot measures designed to derail several housing developments near El Dorado Hills.

Proponents of Measure E and Measure G say they restore planning policies that were gutted from a voter-approved general plan that allowed for over 4,000 homes to be built on several parcels of land by Parker Development, the creators of the Serrano Development in El Dorado Hills.

That includes parcels at El Dorado Hills Boulevard and Highway 50 at the site of an old public golf course that was once designated as open space. The biggest project will include 3,300 homes at the Marble Valley site south of Highway 50 between El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park.

But Parker Development and its allies including a coalition of farmers, wineries, and business groups like the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce say it's planning by ballot initiative.

“Planning by ballot box initiative is a very bad thing and it’s bad for everyone," said Laurel Brent-Bumb, El Dorado Chamber CEO.

She said the plan was vetted though an extensive hearing process and allows county officials to ensure that builders provide amenities and infrastructure to meet project needs.

But the "yes" campaign said plans were changed with undue influence from moneyed developers, which would change the character of the rural county.

"It's their billions of dollars versus our quality of life," said Lori Parlin from the Yes on E and G campaign.

The proponents say developers have begun a campaign of confusion by putting up large signs saying voting "No" would preserve open space. She says a backlash might help their cause.

“Parker Development actually wants to build on what is now open space, so that is a little deceitful and people don’t appreciate that," said Parlin.

But opponents say a planned development around the Highway 50 corridor where infrastructure is available means keeping development away from more rural areas. Whether voters will discern the difference isn't known.

The drafters of the ballot measures say they have spent $4,000 in creating homemade signs posted around the county. Parker Development and its affiliated companies has chipped in nearly $600,000 to defeat the measures.

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