The Danville Town Council is set to weigh in on a proposed 150-apartment complex on Diablo Road just outside downtown after a group of residents last week appealed the Planning Commission's approval of the project.
The eight-page appeal, submitted on behalf of five residents and an organization called Danville Citizens for Responsible Growth, leads by arguing the commission improperly applied a "use-by-right" determination and California Environmental Quality Act exemption for the project.
"The previous environmental impact report is therefore not sufficient for this project due to exceeding the allowable zoning restrictions with respect to density," they wrote in their appeal letter filed last Thursday, one day before the deadline to challenge the commission's Feb. 28 approval.
The appellants also argue the town did not adequately analyze potential impacts the project would have on the San Ramon Creek and surrounding habitat, traffic, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and air quality.
Those impacts "could be significant and should be studied and mitigated or avoided," according to the appeal, which in addition to the responsible growth group lists Danville residents Julie Glaser, Kirsten Muzinich, Michelle Harris, Ram Namburi and Liz Harvey as the appellants.
The apartment complex proposed by property owner Danville Office Partners, LLC, will now head to the Town Council for consideration. The Planning Commission's 5-0 decision would have stood as the town's final approval of the development proposal if not appealed.
Danville town officials have not yet scheduled when the appeal will go before the council, but city attorney Rob Ewing said the earliest the hearing could be is April 18.
The project proposal calls for 150 apartments in three separate buildings at three stories tall on a 3.68-acre site with a multifamily residential land-use designation at 373-383 Diablo Road, adjacent to the Interstate 680 southbound on-ramp just west of the freeway.
The property, which currently contains two-story office buildings from the 1970s, was one of two sites in the town to secure a new multifamily land-use designation through the 2030 General Plan approval in recognition of the regional housing needs allocation shortfall identified in the town's 2007-14 Housing Element, according to town staff.
As proposed, the apartments would not sit right along Diablo Road, instead being set back behind roadside office buildings. Parking would be a combination of ground-level and basement parking.
Many commissioners expressed lackluster support for the apartment complex Feb. 28 but were steadfast in concluding they were legally obligated, based on state and town development rules, to approve the proposal that drew ire from dozens of residents at a pair of commission meetings this year.
Citizen complaints during the public hearings ranged from issues such as increased traffic, school impact, public safety, parking, emergency access, complex size and tree removal.
The project approvals now remain on hold in the wake of the residents' appeal.
Another variable still affecting the development is a legal dispute between Danville Office Partners, LLC and a neighbor challenging the apartments, centered on a set of private covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) affecting the project property and two neighboring parcels -- the Heritage Bank and Cabrita Trust properties -- that prohibits residential uses on any of the three parcels.
Ewing told the commissioners Feb. 28 that the private legal dispute shouldn't factor into their decision about whether the project should be approved as having met town development standards.