Danville council to discuss referendum petition, fate of Magee Preserve project

Citizen group's petition challenges council approval of 69 single-family homes at long-debated property

The Danville Town Council is set Tuesday to consider validating a petition challenging its approval of the Magee Preserve development and contemplate whether to allow voters to make the final decision on the project.

The petition, delivered to town staff by a resident group dubbed Danville Open Space Committee, contained 5,487 signatures -- above the 3,007, or 10% of registered Danville voters, needed to potentially force the council's hand. Contra Costa County election officials reviewed the signatures and confirmed the petition cleared the threshold.

If they certify the validity of the petition on Tuesday, council members can either choose to repeal their approval of the Magee Preserve project outright, or let voters decide during a special election on March 3 or regular municipal election on Nov. 3, according to a staff report by city clerk Marie Sunseri.

Sunseri estimates that placing the issue on the March 2020 statewide primary election ballot would cost the town between $60,132 and $90,198 -- $2 to $3 for every registered voter. She added that placing the question on the November 2020 municipal election would be the cheaper option and is estimated to cost between $37,583 and $52,616 -- $1.25 to $1.75 per registered voter.

Proposed by Walnut Creek-based developer Davidon Homes, the Magee Preserve development project would consist of building 69 single-family homes on the south side of Diablo and Blackhawk roads, as well as a series of hiking and biking trails that would be open to the public.

Located on a 410-acre project site, the Magee Preserve would develop approximately 29 acres -- or 7% -- of the site, with the remaining 381 acres preserved as open space on a permanent basis.

Davidon's is the latest proposal for the Magee property that has been long eyed for development with housing, including a previous project version by SummerHill Homes that resulted in a lawsuit that reached the state Court of Appeal before that developer bowed out.

The Davidon project was signed off on by the council during its regular meeting on July 2, with council members stating that the project’s superior environmental conservation and recreational benefits would prove to be a major boon for the town.

The council’s approval was given over the objection of some residents who feared that the project would increase traffic in the area, limit evacuation routes in an emergency situation such as a fire and obstruct parts of the area’s open space -- among the arguments of the referendum petition proponents.

The Danville Town Council is set to review the Magee Preserve development project during its regular meeting 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, at the Town Meeting Hall, 201 Front St., Danville.

In other business, the council is set to hear a series of special presentations introducing new Danville Police Department personnel and recognizing the participants of the Town of Danville Government 101 Citizens Academy.

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