The Elk Grove Planning Commission on March 18 voted, 5-0, to approve a conditional use permit (CUP) that will allow Elk Grove Masonic Lodge No. 173 to move forward with their plans to operate in Old Town Elk Grove. The lodge was founded in that neighborhood in 1864.

Their future home will be located at 9257 Elk Grove Blvd. This is the current site of the Florin Resource Conservation District (FRCD), which manages the Elk Grove Water District.

As for this fraternal organization’s current home at 9829 Waterman Road, that site was sold to the water district. The existing structure will be redesigned as their new headquarters.

Scott Christian, the lodge’s secretary, told the commission that he finds the Masons’ upcoming existence on the Elk Grove Boulevard site to be good for the community, the water district, and the lodge.

“We’re getting to return home to Old Town,” he said. “Approval of the CUP will help ensure that the lodge will be a valuable part of the community for another 150 years.”

The approved CUP allows the Masons to assemble in an existing 4,000-square-foot warehouse in the Old Town Special Planning Area zoning district. That steel structure will be converted into a 1,342 square-foot meeting hall, a smaller 794 square-foot conference room, an office, restrooms and a storage room. Historically, that building has been used for storage.

Also approved by the commission during their March 18 meeting was an Old Town Elk Grove design review for exterior improvements, including a masonry, brick façade, a new prominent entry, and some new windows and decorative lighting fixtures.

Minor changes will be made to the property’s parking lot to reconfigure parking stalls and to create a new recycling bin area.

Once completed, the Masons’ new meeting site will house indoor lodge meetings, with 20 members per meeting. All of the lodge’s meetings will held indoors, between the hours of 7-9 p.m., and the building will not be rented out to other people or organizations.

FRCD General Manager Mark Madison told the Citizen that the Masons are a “good fit” for Old Town.

“The Elk Grove Water District is happy the Masons were able to successfully garner a unanimous vote by the Planning Commission,” he said. “We think that the Masons will be a good fit for the downtown area as they were once many, many years ago. This (area) is where they were going back to the 1800s.

Madison added that the water district is anxious to complete the sale of their Elk Grove Boulevard property to the Masons. Following that sale, the water district will rent its current offices in a building fronting Elk Grove Boulevard, from the Masons until next year. The cost of that rental will be about $6,000 per month.

Madison noted that this renting will occur until tenant improvements to the Waterman Road building are completed.

He mentioned that FRCD is excited about its future relocation to Waterman Road.

“It has the right size; it has the right feel,” Madison said. “We are very optimistic that we will develop a design for the tenant improvements that will serve the water district and our customers very well for many, many years to come.”

The manager told the Citizen that the water district has entered into a contract for pre-construction services with general contractor, A.P. Thomas Construction, of Sacramento, who will be working closely with the architect, MFDB Architects, of Sacramento, to develop a design that meets the district’s needs.

Madison added that the water district desires an affordable design that “does not necessarily cause any sort of an increase to our customers’ rates.”