Developer of “The Ranch” new home project launches alternative to Save Sand Creek initiative

Map of area covered by the Richland Communities’ alternative initiative.

Proposed ballot measure scales back “The Ranch” project by 10%, bans hillside and ridgeline development, permanently protects additional open space areas on adjacent and surrounding properties, and offers funds for high-school athletic and performing arts facilities

A proposed initiative that would protect two-thirds of Antioch’s Sand Creek Focus Area west of Deer Valley Road from future new home development has been submitted to the City by three Antioch residents, as the first step in its qualification for the November 2018 ballot. It was proposed and is backed by Richland Communities, the developer of the project known as The RanchNotice of Intent to Circulate Petition rcvd 4-27-18

The measure would preserve approximately 1,244 acres of hillsides and natural open space and approve a 10% smaller master-planned project known as The Ranch compared to what has been under consideration by the City of Antioch. Instead of 1,307 homes, the project would include 1,177 homes instead. (Read the entire 143-page document, here:  Initiative Text Part 1 of 4  Initiative Text part 2 of 4  Initiative Text Part 3 of 4 Initiative Text Part 4 of 4 )

“We are listening to the citizens of Antioch and substantially revising our project so that it includes fewer homes and protects the hills, ridgelines, and valuable open space and environmentally sensitive areas around Sand Creek,” said Matt Bray, CEO of Richland Communities, the company that is proposing The Ranch project. “We see ourselves as a community partner and want to do the right thing.”

The local proponents of the initiative are Antioch residents Terry L. Ramus, a former Mello-Roos Board Member and Antioch Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee Chairman, former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman Manny Soliz, Jr. and Matthew Malyemezian. They were each approached by Richland’s consultant, former Antioch Mayor Don Freitas and political campaign consultant, Mary Jo Rossi, to sign on to the effort.

The initiative will affect the adjacent property owners, including the land formerly known as the Higgins Ranch, owned by the long-time Antioch family that founded Higgins Funeral Home on A Street. Now known as Zeka Ranch, that project is also a planned, upscale and executive home community, scaled back from 1,100 homes in the 1990’s to about 400, on 200 of the 640 acres of land west of Empire Mine Road. It was purchased from the Higgins family by The Zeka Group in the 1990’s following the county-wide vote which adopted the original Urban Limit Line, which allows for new home development in the entire Sand Creek area. It also affects the land owned by three other property owners south of The Ranch property, as well as all the single-family home owners along Deer Valley Road. The initiative will only allow The Ranch project and the flat land on the properties south of Richland’s property to be developed.

With the scaled-down project now proposed in the initiative, voters will have the opportunity to support:

  • Protection of approximately 1,244 acres at the western and southern boundaries of the Sand Creek Focus Area west of Deer Valley Road on adjacent property owners land, from future home development by designating the land for open space, agriculture and rural uses.
  • Protection of approximately 250 acres within The Ranch from future development, including a development ban on hills.
  • Investment of at least $1 million in high school sports and performing arts facilities from an additional $1,000 contribution from each new home in The Ranch, including a proposed initial project at Deer Valley High School to fund installation of a synthetic turf field in the football stadium.
  • Establishment of an open space corridor for Sand Creek averaging 430 feet in width instead of the 300 feet, currently in the plan before the City.
  • Preservation of at least 98 percent of trees in The Ranch, including oaks and eucalyptuses.
  • Establishment of a 300-foot open-space buffer within The Ranch along its western boundary at Empire Mine Road.
  • Restriction of development to only flatter terrain within Antioch’s voter-approved Urban Limit Line in the Sand Creek Focus Area west of Deer Valley Road and east of Empire Mine Road.
  • Voter control of any amendments to the Urban Limit Line.
  • Developer funding of additional public safety services, as was required on the two previously approved projects in the Sand Creek Focus Area.
  • Developer construction of Sand Creek Road from Dallas Ranch Road to Deer Valley Road.
  • In addition to reducing The Ranch’s development footprint, the initiative would remove about 130 previously proposed homes from the project.

“This is a total win for Antioch,” said Ramus. “With the scaled-back version of The Ranch project, we get more hillside and open space protections, and the initiative substantially limits future development around Sand Creek.  The funding of at least $1 million for long-needed capital improvements at Deer Valley High School is an additional bonus.”

The Ranch is a proposed master planned residential community that is proposed to include a mix of housing types – including Antioch’s first large-scale age-restricted community for residents 55 years of age or older – along with new commercial and retail services, a trailhead and staging area for East Bay Regional Parks District, a fire-station site, six miles of new public trails and 22 acres of park facilities.

The initiative needs 5,104 valid signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot, and signature gathering on the measure is expected to begin immediately.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

the attachments to this post:

Initiative Text Part 4 of 4
Initiative Text Part 4 of 4

Initiative Text Part 3 of 4
Initiative Text Part 3 of 4

Initiative Text part 2 of 4
Initiative Text part 2 of 4

Initiative Text Part 1 of 4
Initiative Text Part 1 of 4

Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition rcvd 4-27-18
Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition rcvd 4-27-18

West Sand Creek Initiative area map

One Comment to “Developer of “The Ranch” new home project launches alternative to Save Sand Creek initiative”

  1. Mick Ferreira says:

    The urban limit line and the agricultural Zone were two things that I thought were forward thinking back in the day. Here in Hawaii, we are having a hard time with the sheer number of homes builders want to build, with 12,000 of them displacing prime agricultural land. We import 90% of our food. and haven’t caught on to Mello Roos tax districts yet. But we were able to Get a HART station in Kapolei which could be a sister City to Antioch.

    Mick Ferreira

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