Faria developer offers new changes to plan

Seventh public hearing on project near Danville set for April 15

The Faria Preserve project saw another round of changes at the San Ramon Planning Commission on Tuesday night, prompting concern and praise from commissioners.

Plans for the project just outside Danville call for single-family homes, town homes, condominiums, apartments and senior housing totaling 740 residential units. Also included in the plan are a community park, a church and an educational facility.

One change was to move the church closer to a group of apartments in response to a nearby family who didn't want the church perched over their land.

Another reason for the switch was Commissioner Donna Kerger, who suggested it would better serve the community if it were closer to the apartments and senior housing.

Pat Toohey, vice president of operations for the developer, Lafferty Communities, said the second change would also allow more housing in the area slated for apartments.

"We've increased the density of the apartments from 20 per acre to 30 per acre," Toohey said.

He said the higher density is more in keeping with the city's Crow Canyon Specific Plan, and he apologized for changing the plan again.

Recently appointed Commissioner Rick Marks worried that the project is still undergoing changes so close to approval, which could come as early as April 15 before being forwarded for city council consideration.

Marks said he'd seen changes to the project in three of the four hearings he's attended.

"This process is difficult to follow," he said. "I feel like too much information is coming in too late."

Other commissioners supported the ongoing changes.

"Lafferty has taken resident and planning commission concerns into consideration," said Commissioner Jeanne Benedetti.

Kerger -- who still has concerns that the school district is not preparing for an influx of students when people start moving in -- said she's happy with the changes made by the developer.

"I'm willing to go as long as it takes to get something that we're proud of and that's good for the community," she said.

Despite the tentative plan to have a list of conditions of approval and a possible April 15 vote on Faria, Planning Commission Chairman Eric Wallis said that may not happen.

"We are not going to vote on this project until a majority of us agree," Wallis said.

Tuesday night was the sixth public hearing on the development plan, with two speaking in opposition and one in favor.

Jim Gibbon, representing San Ramon for Open Government and the Sierra Club, said the plan would not be approved by either of the two state agencies that would have final say.

Gibbon said the state water board rejected a similar plan in 2006, and "they're still objecting to it."

He said the plan is also unlikely to be approved by the state Department of Fish and Game.

"You think carefully about approving something that will be litigated," Gibbon said. "State policy will not roll over for this project."

Wallis noted, however, that the two agencies need something to approve or turn down.

"State agencies will not approve a project until there's a plan in front of them," he said. "There's not going to be a rush to judgment. Not on a project this size, not in this city."

Robert Klingner, representing a group of neighborhoods, said the 30 days allotted for review was not enough for people to read and comment on a 640-page revised environmental document known as a mitigated negative declaration.

San Ramon Soccer Club General Manager Andy Mittler spoke in favor of the project, and particularly in favor of a park planned as part of the development.

"We need more fields," said Mittler, who noted the club now has 2,500 members.

The park has been the concern of residents in other recent public hearings, who were troubled by potential glare from lights at the fields, parking and noise.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 6, 2014 at 10:22 am

Wake up people...Does anyone care about the water problem we are experiencing. It's all thing the self-serving town/city leaders are thinking about is the tax revenues.

Thank you for listening, Julia Pardini from Alamo

 +   Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Mar 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Just like in the olden days of the west, these developers need to be run of town, like sheriffs ran the bank robbers and bullies out. Oh, but I forget, the city council is in cozy with the developers, likely having received sizable campaign donations from their ilk.
Every time one of these developers takes a small "bite" out of the land, is another loss for the community.
How about the developer buying off the Moms and Dads with the promise of "soccer" fields. And buying off the god fearing with a "church."
It is so typical it really makes me want to throw up.

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