The Alamo Municipal Advisory Committee unanimously approved the land use application for a new San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District station on Tuesday night, after more than a year of discussion and three hours of debate.
"This is not an oversized facility by current fire protection standards," said Fire Chief Richard Price. "This is a noble and righteous project designed…for Alamo residents."
The fire district purchased the 1.24-acre lot in question at 2100 Stone Valley Road on the corner of Miranda Avenue in January 2009 for $1.2 million. Neighbors immediately became alarmed at what the facility in their midst would do to their property values and began to investigate the proposed plans and debate funding options.
While most residents at the meeting expressed their support for Station 32, several spoke about noise, traffic, lighting and aesthetic concerns. Much time was spent discussing a fueling and generator station, which would sit on the corner of the property, enclosed in a building with a canopy, behind trees and a concrete wall.
"The canopy on the fuel corner is almost a deal killer, you can build a gold plated canopy and it would still look out of place," said Alamo Improvement Association member Mike Gibson. "The utility complex is more prominent than the building."
Others brought up the safety issues associated with having a natural fuel source facing an intersection where many accidents occur. Architect Bob Dice was quick to assure the audience that the concrete wall and trees would act as a bumper, preventing cars from crashing into the fueling station.
Dice and Chief Price also pointed out that the wall would act as a noise barrier that would mitigate any sound coming from the station.
"We do not believe that this is a noisy facility. If you look at neighborhood leafblowers, they make more noise," Price said, adding that the most noise comes from sirens, which won't be used at night. The district also plans on installing bifold doors, restrict exposed mechanical devices and only run the generator once a week for 20 minutes.
While the location of the fueling station and generator remained a hot topic, with questions of moving its location brought up throughout the meeting, residents and MAC members spoke out about the need to build the station quickly.
"If we keep on doing this, we will never build this country. Let the professionals do their job and let's build this before I die," said Vishwas More, a retired civil engineer.
Paul Salvoni echoed the sentiment and said that the firehouse should be built now, while costs are lower and the project is paid for.
"When the original station was built, the population of Alamo was 1,700, now it's eight times that size. I'd like to see the fire district get the station and maximize their potential," he said.
MAC members approved the application as submitted with the following conditions and recommendations:
* Any major changes should be brought back to the MAC for review
* A landstrip on the sidewalk surrounding the station should be maintained by the fire district
* Applicant must return with final landscape plan and building color scheme
* Applicant must receive public works approval of the exception of a creek setback as defined in the county subdivision ordinance.
* Building must be a silver leed project (plans already include this).
MAC member Steve Mick congratulated the fire district and Alamo residents for their rigorous debate which, he said, makes for the best projects.
"MAC is not a decision maker, but we can make a decision on our own advice. I have confidence that if changes need to be make that the fire district will make them."
The fire district will now take their application to the zoning administration and then to the planning commission. Chief Price said the district's stations do not take long to construct and should be complete in 10 to 12 months.