A group of concerned citizens filed an appeal with the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors last week against the recently approved land use permit for Fire Station 32 in Alamo. This latest appeal to the board comes after the county Planning Commission rejected a similar appeal in August.
The commission and county zoning administration have both approved the land use permit for the station in question, a 1.24-acre lot at 2100 Stone Valley Road on the corner of Miranda Avenue. Purchased by the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, the lot would house a 9,255-square-foot station that would replace the currently used 53-year-old station.
"It's been a long process, we've been working to get a land use permit for three years now," Fire Chief Richard Price said of the appeal. "Development is tough these days. There's a lot of hoops to jump through when you build something."
Alamo resident Diann Tilley Christensen filed the appeal on behalf of six couples on Sept. 1, citing concerns about "code violations in the areas of volatile liquid storage, parking, and decibel levels."
"These concerns are not frivolous or fallacious, several of them are issues of specific code violations of the 2010 California Fire Code," Christensen wrote. "The substantiation for these code violations is documented in the plans submitted by ATI architects."
The appeal outlines concerns with the placement of propane tanks near structures and ignition sources as well as the lack or sidewalk or shoulder space near the intersection of Miranda Avenue and Stone Valley Road. Congestion and inadequate room for traffic during an emergency were also cited as public safety concerns.
Christensen added that the road studies conducted to mitigate concerns took place during holiday breaks when traffic was at a lull.
Christensen also cited a provision in the county's general plan that stipulates allowable decibel levels for the area must not exceed 60 decibels, while the fire station will produce 70.4 from its generator.
"The (Planning Commission) response gets down to a level of detail where there's 1.5 calls a day…and you're talking about two to three sirens a week," said Catherine Kutsuris, director of the county conservation and development department. "The conclusion was that there wasn't an impact."
The original appeal to the Planning Commission, filed by Dan Haller, included requests for a vehicle back-up noise mitigation plan and visual mitigation study "contrasting the visual mitigation and appearance of a fence or the currently proposed visual mitigation program" that would need to be approved by Kutsuris prior to construction. Although the latest appeal does not contain such provisions, Christensen alleges that mere discussion of a fire station has brought down home value at three different locations.
"New development may not negatively impact the existing neighborhood," she wrote, citing the county general plan.
Still, Christensen, Haller and fellow Station 32 opponents may be on their own.
"We've had very, very broad support. Every approval has been unanimous up to this point. The county staff is strongly recommending the program," said Chief Price. "Just demonstrated by the Alamo MAC's 7-0 approval of the project, that's not a group that's 7-0 very often."
An official date for the appeal hearing has not been set, but Kutsuris said the Board of Supervisors will most likely review the appeal in late October. The October hearing is the last step in the appeals process.