Developer moving ahead with Combie Road project |

Developer moving ahead with Combie Road project

Bear River Plaza developers are moving forward with their plans to build commercial and residential buildings on 7 1/2 acres of land overlooking Combie Road and West Hacienda Drive

The development has stirred concerns among some living in the Lake of the Pines area who think it would add more cars to an intersection already plagued with traffic congestion. It is one of several projects being planned for Combie Road and Higgins corner.

LOP Partners convinced planning commissioners and the county’s road division that the development would relieve congestion with the addition of a designated right turn lane and widening of Combie Road.

They also added public amenities such as a bike and walking trail as an offering to the county to amend zoning in the general plan, making it more consistent with the Higgins Area Plan adopted in 2000, said Heidi Burns, principal planner for SCO Planning and Engineering Inc., the firm hired to engineer the project.

“We’re adding lots of public improvements for slight deviations in the codes,” Burns said.

Developers have proposed using 3.3 acres for 40,000 square feet of office and retail space and 1.9 acres for four two-story multi-family apartments or condominiums with a swimming pool and clubhouse. County zoning allows for development of 2.8 acres, Burns said. Also included in the plans is a 2-acre portion of Forest Lake Christian School to be set aside for open space.

Original plans for the land have changed several times since first envisioned in 1997, including a reduction of open space by half, said Tyler Barrington, senior planner for the project.

Last week, county planning commissioners unanimously agreed to recommend that the county Board of Supervisors approve the project’s use permit, tentative map and adopt the project environmental documents, Barrington said.

“If those are not approved, they have to go back to the drawing board,” Barrington said. Supervisors are expected to review the project in July or August, Barrington said.

After several reincarnations, the plans were presented to the planning commission on Feb 28, and a public workshop followed on April 3 at Bear River High School to discuss traffic concerns with those living in the southern part of the county.

“I think the folks that were originally dissatisfied did not know what the impacts would be,” Barrington said.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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