Danville Express

Newsfront - January 26, 2007

Apartment project on track for approval

Council postpones decision to learn more about easement issues

by Geoff Gillette

The light industrial corridor on the south end of Danville near the San Ramon border may be diminishing, after members of the Town Council gave their tacit approval of a rezoning request that will pave the way for a new multi-unit housing project.

The Town Council held a public hearing at its Jan. 16 meeting over a proposed project that would bring 34 apartments to the property on Fostoria Way at the crossing with the Iron Horse Trail.

Danville Senior Planner Jill Bergman explained to the council that the request from Blacksmith Homes calls for amending the land use designation of the 1.76-acre site from Commercial-Controlled Manufacturing to Residential Multiple Family, and would rezone the property from Light Industrial to Planned Unit Development. This would allow Blacksmith to construct four buildings containing the housing units.

Bergman said the initial intent would be to have the units be rental properties, but somewhere down the line they could be converted to condominium use and sold.

Council members asked whether anything was being done to mitigate noise between the adjacent light industrial businesses and the new project. Bergman stated that initially a sound wall was proposed, but current plans call for trees to be placed along the outside of the property as a buffer.

Representatives of those businesses say that will not be enough. Mark Fernwood, the owner of the adjacent property on Fostoria, reminded the council of what occurred just two months ago when Puppy Playland attempted to move its operations to Fernwood's building. Nearby property owners came forward to complain about the potential noise, which led to the council voting it down.

"I feel it's very inappropriate for this area," Fernwood said. "The new condo owners will not sit there and say, 'I understand that these commercial uses came before us.' It will be a constant source of conflict. It will diminish the usability of my property, which I believe is an unfair taking of my property."

Fernwood also questioned plans for an emergency vehicle access that he claimed would take away five parking spaces from his property.

The assertion sparked questions from the council about the legality of the easement and whether there would indeed be a loss of parking for the adjacent landowner. Bergman explained the issue stemmed from when the property was sold and lot lines were rearranged. Blacksmith Homes officials claim they have the easement.

Council members were nearly unanimous in their support for the housing development. Councilman Mike Doyle stated he felt there should be more affordable housing in Danville.

"It's a shame we don't have a bunch more for our teachers, firemen, policemen who can't afford to live in this town," Doyle said. "I think this is an ideal place to do it. I really truly do."

The 34 apartments would be built in four freestanding buildings, and each unit would have a one- or two-car garage. The plans include a common area courtyard for use by all occupants, and a tot lot and barbecue area is also being proposed.

Mayor Mike Shimansky said he could not support the project.

"I don't believe any housing should go there," he said. "We have few lots that are zoned light industrial. We have a lot of land that is zoned for housing."

Since there was no solid information on the easement question and the effect on parking, council members voted 4-1 in favor of continuing the issue to their Feb. 6 meeting for the sole purpose of getting the easement question resolved. It is expected to be approved at the Feb. 6 meeting.


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