Antioch Council reapproves new housing development next to Dozier-Libbey Medical High School
By Allen Payton
After waiting more than 10 years to build a new housing project, planned for the south side of Antioch, next to Dozier-Libbey Medical High School, Aviano Farms, LLC, a partnership of DeNova Homes and Mike Serpa, was successful in obtaining council approval on a 5-0 vote, at Tuesday night’s meeting.
The development agreement, the council approved, includes 533 homes and will provide the needed improvements to the sewer line that serves the adjacent high school. The council approved the Use Permit for the first phase of the project, which consists of 127 homes. The council also changed the designation of the project from Adult Community Planned Development to a regular housing development, in which anyone can purchase a home.
Serpa spoke at the August 25th council meeting about the Sand Creek Master plan, which includes ballparks, and how his project is “the major infrastructure provider.”
“Dozier-Libbey [Medical High School] was a result of this project,” he stated.
He pointed out that they have already spent $4 million for species and environmental mitigation, and will be spending $2.5 million to extend Sand Creek Road and Hillcrest Avenue, which will both serve the new development, as well as the new sewer line.
“We’re asking you to reapprove a project that is not substantially different,” Serpa added. “This project is a good one. It’s done its civic duties.”
Also at the August 25th meeting, Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent for Business and Operations for the Antioch Unified School District, spoke about both the land Serpa had set aside for Dozier-Libbey, as well as the sewer line.
“We started working with Mike Serpa in 2004 on Dozier-Libbey and was able to open in 2008,” he stated. “It brings us back about $1 million to pay us back. The temporary sewer line is failing. It’s running on propane.”
“The economy downturn did not allow us to finish the infrastructure,” Forrester continued. “We’re very amicable in our agreement with Aviano Farms. It will benefit Kaiser, as well, giving us a second way into a hospital.”
The public hearing was closed at the August 25th meeting, but not before a few residents spoke in favor of the project.
“I’ve lived in Antioch for 26 years,” said Robert Laxner. “I like this project.”
He mentioned the project’s 350 offsite acres set aside for open space.
Aaron Hodess, the Business Manager of the Plumbers and Steamfitters union, Local 159, said “We look forward to finally work in our city. I”ve got every confidence this will be a quality project.”
He also spoke of “opportunities for our youth and careers through apprenticeship.”
Kevin Van Buskirk read his statement, saying he lived in Antioch for 30 years and was concerned about the impact on police services. But, now he supports the project.
No one spoke against the development.
But, there was disagreement over three issues at the August 25th meeting. So, the council voted to give city staff and the developer two weeks to work out agreements on the police fee, the owner-occupation issue and a city requested hold-harmless indemnity clause in the development agreement.
The council, in approving the development agreement at Tuesday’s meeting, imposed an annual police services fee of $445 per home, which is a new requirement, never before imposed on a development in Antioch. They also required the formation of a homeowners association.
While the City wanted to require that no more than 30 percent of the homes be available for rent at any time, according to the staff report “following more thorough research, City staff no longer endorses this as a function of the City, but encourages the applicant to pursue any reasonable and lawful means to encourage greater owner occupancy.”
During Tuesday night’s meeting, Interim City Attorney Derek Cole said “the time for public challenge has come and gone.”
However, public comments were allowed.
Antioch resident Terry Ramus was the only one from the public to speak on the item. He spoke about development agreements, and how in the past the city had forgotten some things.
“I had hoped we have learned from our history,” Ramus said. “The times have changed. So, on this police services agreement, is that tight?”
“Perfect is not really what I’m asking for you to do,” he continued. “I’m asking for you to look at it with a fine-tooth comb and if you’re not comfortable with it, don’t vote for it tonight.”
Mayor Wade Harper responded.
“After a couple years, now of fine tooth combing and everything else, the matter is now before council.”
Councilwoman Mary Rocha added her thoughts.
“It will bring employment, better service for our schools, it will improve the road system,” she said. “This one is bringing us some extra items that will benefit the schools and city.”
“I am very comfortable that all parties have come to an agreement,” said Councilman Tony Tiscareno.
He then asked about the police fee.
Cole explained that the developer agreed to a Community Services District that levies a special tax, which is a Mello-Roos tax for police.
“Development must be revenue neutral and provide the 1.2 to 1.5 officers per thousand,” he stated. “One way or the other, the standard of providing police protection will exist. This developer has done everything they can to work with us, to date.”
“I like the variety of sizes of homes,” said Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock. “There are 5,000 square foot lots up to 10,000 square foot lots. I just want to make sure the infrastructure goes in.”
“I wanted to make sure we have enough money to pay for police, going forward,” said Harper. “That was important to me. This will be a wonderful, clean and safe neighborhood. If I could I would give the Aviano folks credit for working so well with the school district. I’m glad you’re getting this project done and thanks for being in our city.”
Rocha mentioned a possible local hire.
Then the council voted unanimously to approve the development agreement which lasts through 2029. The developer will have three years to form the Community Services District to pay for more police.
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