Watchdog – Concerns with Seeno’s proposed hillside development

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

At their Tuesday, January 28 meeting, the Antioch City Council will consider Discovery Builders request for General Plan amendments for the Pointe project, (generally located west of the intersection of Somersville Road and James Donlon Blvd.) Specifically, the sought after amendments would change the zoning from low-density residential to inclusion in the Somersville Road Corridor Focus Area and waive the requirements of certain applicable sections of our General Plan relating to hillside development. The resolution before council is to deny the general plan amendments for the Pointe Project proposed by the Seeno company.

Background on the project which the developer wants rezoned from hillside residential development (1.2 houses per acre) to single family residential (2.4 houses per acre – or double that permitted) : The city did receive a request from Discovery Builders wanting to construct 60 single family homes, two open space parcels, two storm water basins, and a pocket park with a water feature on an approximately 21 acre property. The request was dated January 29, 2007, and amended or supplemented on January 15, 2008, April 2, 2008, December 21, 2010, August 30, 2013 and October 17, 2013.

Numerous hearings were held in which council provided direction and feedback to the applicant. On September 17, 2007 the Planning Commission held a public hearing, received and considered evidence, both oral and documentary and recommended denial to the City Council. On January 22, 2008 the City Council held a public hearing and approved 60 residential development allocations. The City then prepared an Initial Study to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the Seeno Pointe Project.

On November 6, 2013 the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the matter, receiving and considering evidence, both oral and documentary but took no action, merely recommending denial of the Project to the City Council.

On December 10, 2013, the City Council held a public hearing on the matter but did not act at that time. In the interim the City determined the following: The General Plan Amendments are inconsistent with the General Plan’s goals and policies regarding hillside development, the amendments could potential result in the creation of a noncontiguous area within the Somersville Road Corridor Focus Area whose policies and goals do not emphasize lower density residential uses, but instead prioritize commercial tax revenue generating uses, In addition, the project undermines the efforts contained in the City’s General Plan and Municipal Code to preserve natural ridgelines within the City of Antioch. The removal of 104 vertical feet of hillside does not meet the intent of the hillside development policies or meet the definition of developable land as outlined in the General Plan.

Project approval would set an adverse precedent for future hillside development within the City.

Seeno is also currently proposing to build 356 single family homes on undeveloped grazing land south of Pittsburg’s city limits, known as the Montreux subdivision whose access would be via an intersection at Kirker Pass Road that would connect with the long planned 17 mile James Donlon Blvd extension which Seeno delayed construction of complaining of insufficient funding from the East Contra Costa Regional Fee and Financing Authority to do so. In addition, another Seeno project known as Tuscany Meadows, if approved, would result in another 917 single family homes and up to 365 apartments near where the extension would start. (Pittsburg’s new mayor Sal Evola is a cousin of Seeno III and once worked for Discovery Builders. Antioch’s mayor Wade Harper previously recused himself from a vote regarding possible litigation with Seeno regarding the Markley Creek Crossing stating that since Seeno donated to his campaign he has a conflict of interest.)

NOTE: The City has hired a consultant (same facilitator who conducted a “get to know me” session for the new council) to conduct four “Community Cafes” to solicit feedback from residents not in regard to what’s wrong with the city, but help find solutions. The meetings will be held in the evenings thus creating staff overtime costs. Frankly, I thought our gripes were well known and were what the city manager and council were hired/elected to fix. If they’re unsure what our gripes are, I suggest the City post an objective survey on the internet which would result in considerable more input and less expense than four 6:30 p.m. meetings will. (Wonder if the City runs a tab with Starbucks coffee. The Police Dept. holds Coffee with Cops meetings and it’s obvious the Chief sure loves the place).

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