Neighboring Zeka Ranch owner responds to developer, environmental group-backed Sand Creek initiatives in Antioch

Land Use Plan for the proposed Zeka Ranch new home project on the west end of the Sand Creek Focus Area. Courtesy of The Zeka Group.

Calls it an abuse of the process; their plan protects environment, saves trees and open space

This past Friday, April 27, Richland Communities submitted an initiative to compete with one currently being circulated for signatures by the environmental community, both of which seek to stop the Zeka Ranch project from being developed on the western end of the Sand Creek area. Richland is the developer of “The Ranch” project with the planned 1,307 homes on 500 acres and is now proposing to reduce that by 130 homes. It will require the neighboring Zeka Ranch to become permanent open space. (See related article, here).

The Zeka Group, owners of the 640-acre Zeka Ranch property on which they plan to build a 400-upscale home community, responded to the latest attack against their property, their plans and their rights with the following statement:

The Zeka Group has been part of the ongoing growth and development plans for the City of Antioch since 1992.  The Zeka Group participated in the development and implementation of the 2003 General Plan and has been an integral participant and contributor to the development of Future Urban Area (FUA) #1 and the subsequent Sand Creek Specific Plan Study area, now known as the Sand Creek Focus Area, as well.

Rendering of proposed homes at the Zeka Ranch project in the Sand Creek area.

As a responsible developer and contributor to the Antioch Community the Zeka Ranch project was the first and only development which developed a footprint that was 1) sensitive to the preservation of trees, 2) maintained habitat zones for the Alameda Whip Snake, migration corridors and setbacks to Sand Creek and 3) focused on the preservation of predominate ridgeline elements.

The Zeka Group accomplished this desired planning technique by engaging H.T. Harvey and Associates Ecological Consultants, a well-known and respected firm, specializing in biological resource assessment and determination. H.T. Harvey prepared a full biological assessment (BA) for the entire Zeka Ranch project. The assessment was utilized as a planning tool to judiciously place the final development footprint to minimize and avoid biological assets identified within the final BA. The BA was generated at great cost to the Zeka Group, but their management team spearheaded by Louisa Kao felt that the unique setting and geography of the site warranted such consideration.

In addition, plans for the Zeka Ranch were created by the same architect and land planner that laid out the map for Blackhawk, Doug Dahlin of the Dahlin Group. The Zeka Group hired his firm to ensure the highest quality of new home development in Antioch, and which will contribute to the long-term success of the city. The plans have been reduced from 1,100 homes on the 640 acres.

“We are committed to Antioch’s success and environmental protection and have been since we first purchased the property from the Higgins family,” said Louisa Zee Kao, President of The Zeka Group. But, this must be a win-win situation. Instead, Richland wants a win-lose situation, where they win, and we lose.”

Rendering of a proposed floor and lot plan at Zeka Ranch.

The Zeka Group has invested over $20 million into Antioch by purchasing the property, paying property taxes, developing plans, and paying city fees, all while following the guidelines as set down by the voters of the county, the voters of Antioch, city staff, the East Bay Regional Parks District, planning commissioners and city council members.

“This initiative by Richland is unfair, self-serving, mainly benefiting only one land owner, and at our expense,” Kao continued. “This is an abuse of the initiative process, and will result in the devaluation of our property, and all the surrounding properties, eliminating their voter-approved right to build the kind of homes Antioch needs for its future success and prosperity.”

Regarding the other initiative backed by the environmental groups, entitled “Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative,” it is mislabeled. (See related article, here). The voters of the county and of Antioch have already decided, twice and both times their vote has allowed for new home building in the Sand Creek area. Furthermore, Sand Creek will not be saved if the homes aren’t built, because it will remain on private property, inaccessible to the public. With the development plans, the City of Antioch is requiring setbacks to the creek, and an adjacent trail system that will connect to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve to the west of the Sand Creek Focus Area. The plans will allow public access to the Sand Creek watershed.

“Most importantly, these initiatives will not help fulfill the long-term economic plans the City of Antioch has had for over 20 years. The public should not be misled by either of them,” Kao concluded.

The Zeka Group looks forward to continuing its responsible development in the Antioch community as it continues to grow and flourish, with the development of Zeka Ranch.


the attachments to this post:

Zeka Ranch floor plan

Zeka Ranch Conceptual Hillside Estate Cluster

Zeka Ranch Land Use Plan

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