CHICO, Calif. – People who live in the area of North Chico are being encouraged to weigh in on a development proposal; one that places the lure of rural living at odds with development and growth.
Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough spent time in the area to learn more about the North Chico Village Proposal.
One landowner who would be impacted, is Mickey Kemp. For almost thirty years he has lived in the area. He owns 75 acres; open space, with one edge of his property line against that of the Chico Municipal Airport.
The North Chico Village proposal would sit to the west of his property. Kemp says he welcomes such a project, as it could possibly benefit his desire to make improvements to his land.
He says right now, his acreage offers limited use and even more limited sources for income. "It would improve my property because it would bring water and sewer and that would let me develop the front part of my property,” explains Kemp.
Not far from the serene landscape of Kemp’s property, are other homeowners. One whom Yarbough spoke with has much different feelings.
Laree Hartman says she moved to the region 33 years ago, seeking a quiet, non-populated rural setting. She is not in favor of seeing a larger-scale development project in her neighborhood.
“They seem to think that we want additional stores, etc. out here and we don’t. High-rise housing and dense housing isn’t why any of us moved out here,” says Hartman.
Butte County originally put forth a proposal to develop the area in a 1995 draft. The current project would be a working partnership with Butte County and the City of Chico.
The North Chico Village project encompasses 3,590 acres, situated east of highway 99, west of the Chico Airport and north of Eaton Road. Right now much of the area is open space, fields and orchards. Current zoning for the project allows for 2-thousand housing units. Right now the area is mostly open space; orchards.
Brendan Vieg is the Community Development Director for the City of Chico. He says the project is in the County but within the “sphere of influence” of Chico.
"This is a re-visioning of that area and what might be there in the form of housing, office and commercial uses,” explains Vieg. “That area is an area slated for urban development which means it's going to serve at some point as a place to meet some of the city's housing and employment needs."
Butte County is working with a consulting firm, SWA, to provide information to the community and gather feedback and suggestions from the community as well.
Wednesday, November 18th, saw the second of three community vision virtual meetings, giving the community a platform to learn more about the project and to submit comments, ideas and suggestions.
Hartman tells Action News Now, she attended the first virtual meeting. She describes the session and Q&A like this:
“The questions were very slanted of telling how you want to have this happen instead of do you want to have this happen.”
She adds, “We all live out here because we want a rural setting.”
As for Kemp, while his property provides peace and tranquility, he says, “I would like to see the project in order for me to get any value. That almost has to happen.”
A planning representative from Butte County tells Action News Now, the North Chico Village project website now includes an interactive portal, in which community members can submit feedback and see comments from others. Recordings of the workshops are also available.