Plans to develop 750 acres of Rancho Murieta North were announced Thursday by the Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers and Murietan John Sullivan, long rumored to be in negotiations with the PTF to buy the land.
In a brief announcement at the conclusion of a Community Services District board workshop, Sullivan said he hoped to bring the county an application by mid-year "for all the remaining subdivisions and all the remaining units for Rancho Murieta" -- about 700 lots.
Sullivan said his plans call for initial development of about 110 acres between Murieta Parkway and the Fairways, about 180 acres between the Fairways and the Cosumnes River and about 72 acres between Lake Chesbro, Lake Clementia and Bass Lake.
The first planned development areas surround the existing Fairways neighborhood. This development map from a decade ago calls the areas The Terrace, River Canyon Estates and The Highlands.
"We're just going to do a bunch of villages so that everybody understands what type and style of lot is where and what density is where, and what the housing types look like," Sullivan said. "We're talking about housing types that range from triplex manor homes all the way up to multiple-acre estate lots."
Sullivan said his group didn't intend to build, just get the necessary approvals and prepare the land for builders.
The most distant land, to the east and north of Lake Clementia, will be handled differently, he said.
“The sensitive area on the east side of Clementia going all the back to around Calero, those areas had some really high densities on the original Rancho Murieta master plan. ... Those are just a practical impossibility ... (with) too many conflicts with Lake Clementia reservoir and drainage and Lake Jean ... and the cost of running extended facilities out to the Calero back lake is not something that needs to be contemplated in an improvement plan today…" Sullivan said.
Sullivan, a longtime Murietan, called Lake Jean, a small lake east of Lake Clementia, one of the gems of Rancho Murieta that needs to be preserved and protected.
The Pension Trust Fund was represented by Michael Hamilton, an asset manager with New York Life Investment in San Francisco, which manages the PTF's pension assets, including the ranch land bought in the late 1960s that has been developed into Rancho Murieta.
In response to a question, Sullivan said the property transfer hasn't taken place yet, but he encouraged the CSD board to join him in discussions in February around water and sewer service for the land. He said he hoped it could be wrapped up in four to six weeks, but it may not be that simple.
Sullivan currently trying to get the board to agree to a services and fee agreement for another project, Murieta Gardens, which includes a hotel, instead of participating in a financing and services agreement with other developers for water treatment plant expansion and other facilities.
As for Thursday's proposal, he said he believed annexation into the Rancho Murieta Association would have to allow developers to control the architectural review process.
"We've started the discussion with RMA about how to bring everything together …" he said. "We've said that we don't think there's a conflict of us being annexed. We just need you to understand that architectural review needs to be the developer's purview and not RMA's. I don't think that's a stumbling block that's going to kill annexation."
John Sullivan, left, and Michael Hamilton delivered their announcement informally.
As for CSD's reaction, General Manager Ed Crouse said Friday, "We have to take a hard look at the lot types and what they plan and make sure the county and the community are on board before we make a firm commitment on water supply."
Any development would be subject to terms of a development agreement the RMA signed a decade ago.
The agreement gave RMA title to community parks, provided $1.4 million for a new North Gate, and required new developments to be part of a central homeowners association with CC&Rs that mirror RMA's, to pay full RMA dues and contribute to community parks funding.
Development plans were announced for the North in 2000, prompting years of community opposition. In 2006, the PTF turned its back on those plans, but two projects, with a total of 282 homes, came out of that process and won county approval for development. The poor housing market has kept the lid on new home construction, however.
There have been rumors for years of PTF interest in selling its remaining land here. In 2010, the PTF went to the extreme of taking out an online ad to showcase the land to potential buyers. The land for sale included the Country Club, which has a lease that doesn't expire until 2028.
Sullivan's announcement didn't mention the Country Club or Operating Engineers' Training Center, which were included in the PTF pitch in 2010. The Country Club has repeatedly said a sale would only be a change of landlords, since its lease has many years to run.