City Manager Steven Falk unveiled a new proposal worked out by the developer and city officials for the 22-acre property at Pleasant Hill Road and Deer Hill Road.
That proposal was rejected last month by the city’s Design Review Commission, which said the project had too many units and too many problems.
The council voted 4-0 Monday night to have the City Attorney draft an agreement that would halt the planning process on the 315-unit proposal. Councilwoman Traci Reilly recused herself because she had signed a petition involving the development before she was elected to the council.
The council will now hold hearings on the new proposal on Jan. 13 and Jan. 22. After the second hearing, they will decide whether to start a new 9-month planning process on the 45-home proposal.
Falk said the city and O’Brien Land representatives had talked a dozen times since mid-November to craft the new proposal.
He said a new plan was needed because of the widespread opposition to the original proposal and an environmental report that identified 13 negative impacts. On the other side, the developer had threatened to sue if the original plan wasn’t approved.
Falk said the new plan allows up to 45 homes on 8.7 acres of the parcel. The homes would be on 4,500-square-foot lots and be about 2,000 to 2,500 square feet each.
The remaining land would contain open space, an all-weather soccer/lacrosse field, a dog park, a tot lot and a 75-space public parking lot that could help with overflow parking needs at Acalanes High School events.
There would also be a bicycle path that encircled the project, making it easier for cyclists to get to the BART station.
The entrance to the development would be on the western edge on Deer Hill Road to encourage drivers to use the central Lafayette freeway ramps instead of the ones on Pleasant Hill Road.
Under the agreement, the developer would own the 8.7 acres with the houses. They’d be responsible for grading the entire property as well as undergrounding utilities and landscaping.
The city would purchase the remaining 13.3 acres for $1.8 million. The developer would use that money to build the parks, fields and parking lot. The city would retain ownership of those facilities.
More than 100 people attended the hearing. Many were stunned into silence.
Those who did speak were both pleased and skeptical.
“I’m completely amazed,” said Carol Singer, a member of the city’s Park, Trails and Recreation Commission.
She said she was “flabbergasted” at the dog park and sports fields being included.
“This is just the perfect spot for these activities,” she said.
Kendra Loveless thanked the developer and the city for crafting the new proposal.
“This is so much better,” she said. “I don’t know how you did this.”
Others were more dubious.
One resident said he wanted to be sure they city hadn’t been bullied into the agreement by the threat of a lawsuit
Eliot Hudson, representing the Secluded Valley Homeowners Association, said residents need more time to study the new proposal. He also reprimanded city officials for allowing the situation to happen in the first place.
“We should have never gotten into this position,” he said.
Another resident, Hunter Davis, said he felt the developer had this planned all along. He said they presented a frightening 315-unit proposal so they could unveil the 45-home plan.
“I feel this was the developer’s strategy from the beginning,” said Davis. “They now expect us to welcome them with open arms because we get a dog park.”
The council members said they felt it was appropriate to at least move forward so they could study the new proposal furthur.
“I think we should go forward to at least explore this alternative,” said Councilman Mike Anderson. “I don’t see the down side.”
Mayor Don Tatzin said moving ahead is the responsible thing to do. However, he said the council will need to look at the merits of the housing development and not focus on the amenities such as the sports field
“Our decision should be about whether this is a good housing project,” he said.