Kyle Syzmanski, The Brentwood Press, June 26, 2019
The Brentwood City Council delayed its decision to send to voters a proposed urban limit line (ULL) expansion initiative so they can further study the measure’s potential effects.
The proposed initiative — spearheaded by a group of local developers, including longtime Brentwood farmer and developer Ron Nunn — would move the border at which urban development must stop. The change would clear the way for a proposed 815-acre development, including up to 2,400 residential units, along with other elements, and would be situated north of Balfour Road, east of Deer Valley Road and west of the Shadow Lakes and Brentwood Hills neighborhoods.
The initiative will now go on the ballot in either later this year or next year, with a firm date to be determined after the council receives an independent report on the measure’s impacts in the next 30 days.
The council is required to put the question to voters because the development group collected more than the required 3,500 verified resident signatures in support of the measure to qualify for the ballot.
“Every one of us live here, every one of us will be affected by this — some more than others,” said Vice Mayor Joel Bryant. “I want to see the (independent report) done. That is the only step to consider right now.”
The council’s decision pleased a group of opponents who urged the council to delay the special election until after completion of an independent report and separate environmental impact report (EIR). Opponents decried the developer’s proposal, concerned that it would adversely affect area traffic, emergency responders, schools and the environment at large.
“I know this has to go before the city to vote, but every decision that is made has to be made for community safety,” said resident Gari Ann Schmidt.
Hayley Currier, a Greenbelt Alliance representative, added that the project’s environmental impacts will be immense.
“The project promises to make a significant and lasting environmental impact,” Currier said. “The conversion of agricultural land is a large contributor to pollution, greenhouse gas emissions.”
Early plans call for the proposed project to roll out in five phases over 20-25 years, featuring up to 2,400 residential units — at least 80% of which would be of the age-restricted, active-adult variety — along with multiple recreation centers. Other possible features could include an outdoor amphitheater, winery, farm-to-table restaurant and bar, roadway improvements and an estimated 225 acres of permanent agricultural and open-space lands, including vineyards and olive groves.
The council-ordered impact report — exploring the proposal’s possible effects on several factors, including emergency responders, schools, land use, housing availability, employment, infrastructure funding, open space and traffic — will be delivered to the council no later than July 25. The development group is expected to reimburse the city for the report’s cost, up to $60,000.
“It’s going to impact the neighborhoods, the kids, the whole community,” said Mayor Bob Taylor.
It would cost the city between $104,232 and $173,870 to hold a special election in September or October of this year, or between $43,467 and $60,584 to wait until the general election in November 2020, although the development group is expected to reimburse the city for the special election costs, according to a city staff report.
The proponents have not indicated whether they would consider reimbursing the city for the cost of a general election.
Development group members did not speak publicly during the meeting, but they have said that they feel the project will address community concerns and benefit the area. The group has said it plans to meet with the fire district to address the agency’s obvious resource shortage that could be further strained with new development. The district’s three current stations cover 249 square miles and an estimated 119,000 residents.
Project plans also call for several roadway improvements, including extending American Avenue — which currently terminates in front of Adams Middle School — to form an additional intersection with Balfour Road; widening Balfour Road from near its intersection with American Avenue to the southwestern corner of the project site; and making several safety improvements to Deer Valley Road.
The development group has also pointed out that the project construction would generate local jobs, and that senior communities generate less traffic than conventional housing projects, garner money for schools without adding children, add disposable income to the community and could attract improved medical services.
But opponents say the project is just too much for the community, and more official information is needed before a vote can proceed.
“You can’t send something to the election when your public doesn’t have the information to make an informed decision,” said Kathy Griffin, who has spearheaded a community action group opposing the proposal. For more information on the proposed project, visit bit.ly/thepressnet_project. For more information from the community action group, visit allianceforabetterbrentwood.org .