The planning commission held a public hearing on Tuesday to review the Weber residential development project, including the final environmental impact report (EIR) and proposed development plan.
In a unanimous vote, the commission approved the 15-acre development's preliminary and final development plans, major subdivision request and tree removal request. Davidon Homes would built 22 single-family homes near Blemer Road and construct a new street connecting Blemer and Matadera Way, with the ultimate goal of easing congestion between Los Cerros Middle and Green Valley Elementary schools.
"A connection to a public road has always been in the town plans. We hope to see improved levels of service," said Principal Planner David Crompton.
The new vehicular connection, to be named Weber Lane, was the subject of much discussion at Tuesday's meeting with both commission members and residents advocating for an additional sidewalk on the east side of the street. Currently, the sidewalk on Weber Road runs along the west side of the property and connects to paths on Blemer Road and Matadera Way.
"The idea is that there are multiple alternatives that weren't there before," said Davidon Homes Vice President Jeff Thayer.
While the new street includes two turnarounds or roundabouts to improve traffic flow, Thayer said it would be possible to add a five-foot sidewalk in front of five houses on Weber Lane. The inclusion of additional sidewalk was added to the commission's motion to approve.
"In 40 years on the planning commission, I've never seen so much effort from a developer to mitigate every single thing," said Commission member Lynn Overcashier. "I feel very strongly that Davidon Homes has gone above and beyond and I think it will benefit the community for many years to come."
Others were not so gung-ho about the development. Diablo resident Maryann Cella expressed concern about erosion along Green Valley Creek and called for a pipe along Diablo Road to push water from the development further up the creek.
"All the people who have homes along Green Valley Creek don't have taxpayer dollars at their disposal," she said. "There's no discussion that the creek is over capacity….I'm kind of amazed that this isn't in the EIR."
In its response to comments document, consultants outlined ways to mitigate the development's hydrology impacts by delivering peak water flows into the creek prior to the larger flow from mainstream watersheds.
The document, which is comprised of responses to 26 letters, also addressed mitigations to cumulative traffic effects and aesthetic issues.
But getting to this point was no easy task. After approving project applications and accepting a mitigated negative declaration (MND) in April 2007, a group called Citizens for Civic Accountability filed a lawsuit alleging that Danville failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. Superior Court found that the MND accounted for all environmental impacts except tree removal, forcing the town to retract approval of the MND report.
After approving a new MND in 2009, Citizens for Civic Accountability (CCA) filed an appeal. The California Court of Appeal subsequently concluded that there was substantial evidence that the project might result in significant adverse impacts on wetlands riparian habitat.
"This EIR is the result of our efforts and though I believe it was hastily done...at least it was done," said CCA member Kristin Trisco.
The final EIR and development application will now go to the town council, which will take final action on the project during a public hearing in early July.