Shandon growth has obstacles

A study on an updated plan that plots future growth in Shandon lays out 12 environmental drawbacks in developing the area that are deemed unavoidable.

If the plan was fully developed, Shandon’s population could increase from approximately 1,200 residents in its 2008 estimate to approximately 8,120 residents in 20 years. The small town is about 20 miles east of Paso Robles.

The last time an area plan was prepared for Shandon was in 1980, officials said, but it was only a small piece of a much larger county growth document.

In fall 2004, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors authorized an update.

The refreshed version, titled the Shandon Community Plan Update, will help guide county planners in land use, new infrastructure needs such as roads, how improvements would be paid for and where commercial development and new housing would be appropriate.

It covers the existing community of Shandon and approximately 1,680 acres surrounding it south of Highway 46 East.

The county has been working on the update with the Shandon Advisory Council as well as local agencies and residents.

Two components

The environmental study of the plan has two components — a study on growth and another for the proposed mixed-use San Juan Village Fallingstar project.

The Fallingstar plan lists 11 unavoidable impacts to the area as well.

Fallingstar, set for 271 acres in the southeastern part of the community, would have a mix of shops, offices, apartments and homes in two phases, according to the plan. Its first phase would support a maximum of 410 new homes and approximately 1,500 people, according to the report.

In 2008, planners sought comment for the environmental study, and top concerns included traffic, keeping scenic views and water.

Construction of new water storage and delivery facilities, new wastewater treatment facilities and transportation infrastructure improvements are part of the plan.

The county Planning Commission will hold public hearings this summer to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors about whether it should approve the plan in the fall.

What is affected

The environmental report on both projects discusses how developing the rural area would change existing zoning laws, impact the town’s visual character and strain public services.

Here’s a closer look at some impacts:

Alternatives to the plan were also listed representing five variations on how build-out could be lessened so the town’s surroundings are less affected.

The study is still in the draft stage, meaning the public can comment on its findings until June 29.

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