At its Tuesday meeting, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve plans for a new fire station in Alamo -- despite qualms from several residents.
Plans for Station 32, which will sit on a 1.24-acre lot at 2100 Stone Valley Road, were contested in September by a group of 12 concerned citizens who alleged that the project would have significant aesthetic and safety issues. The group also appealed to the county planning commission, who also rejected the claim.
"It was supported unanimously upon my recommendation," said District 2 Supervisor Gayle Uilkema, who noted that the board made no modifications to the plan. "The way I saw it after reviewing everything...it's an improvement for meeting our future and our present service needs."
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. The new station would employ 18 firefighters and house six at any given time.
"It's a beautiful station and it's going to be a very functional station. Station 32 is the oldest, smallest station in the district and has far outlived its useful life. It under serves the community in many ways," said Fire Chief Richard Price. "This is going to be a major improvement to the capabilities for the town of Alamo."
Valley Fire held 35 public forums on the project over three years and the resulting dialogue influenced much of the station plans, Price told the board. The new station must comply with 60 restrictions resulting from said forums, including the addition of a landstrip on the sidewalk surrounding the station.
"We had a righteous project -- trying to do the right thing for the community wee serve and we were proud to present that project. Any time we could try to address a concern in the community, that was a win for us."
Despite concerns most recently outlined by Alamo resident Cathy Harvill surrounding noise from the station's generators and the safety of bicyclist and pedestrians, neighbors of the current Station 32 expressed satisfaction with the department.
"Jan and I have lived next door to the Alamo Stone Valley Fire Station for nine years. During that time we have never once felt that their presence was a detriment to our safety, the value of our property, or continued enjoyment of our home," read a note from Randy and Jan Nahas. "In fact we are saddened that the District feels that they need to move to better serve the community as they are great neighbors."
The fire district will now create construction drawings for the station and must submit the plans for review before receiving a building permit. Once in possession of the building permit, the district will conduct a public bid for contractors, a process which will take at least a year. In the mean time, Price said, the district will tear down an abandoned house and grade the lot in preparation for construction.
"We're very happy to be at the end of this process, it's been three years now. One of the things that is probably most satisfying to me is we had unanimous votes from start to finish," Price said.
Supervisor Uilkema echoed Price's excitement and said she is looking forward to seeing the completed facility.
Tuesday's hearing was the final step in the appeals process for residents.