San Ramon: Faria Preserve Gets Green Light to Build 740 Homes

May 13, 2014 12:29 pm

By Joyce Tsai, San Jose Mercury News

SAN RAMON — After weathering years of intense opposition, Faria Preserve project developers have finally received the green light to build 740 homes in the city.

The development, which has been part of the town’s Northwest Specific Plan since 2006, will include a mix of single-family houses, townhouses, apartments, senior housing and parcels for a church and sports park. It will all be located near Interstate 680, north of Crow Canyon Road and east of Bollinger Canyon Road.

The city’s planning commission unanimously approved the project at a May 6 meeting after more than eight Planning Commission public hearings on the topic and placing more than 220 conditions on the project to which the developer, Lafferty Communities, must adhere in order to build.

“It’s the largest project we’ve approved since the City Center project,” Planning Commission Chairman Eric Wallis said. “And it’s taken more public hearings than any other project I’ve been involved in.”

Lafferty has been trying to build the 288-acre residential development on 450 acres once owned by Claremont Homes since fall 2012. At that time, Lafferty brought a revised project before the city for approval after Claremont’s plans to build 786 units there – approved by the Planning Commission and City Council in 2006 – was stymied by lawsuits filed in 2008 by the East Bay Regional Park District and Sierra Club, which were eventually settled.

Last month, the Coalition of Northwest Neighborhoods turned in a petition with signatures of more than 300 residents opposing the project to the city, a last-ditch attempt to halt the project – but to no avail.

“Honestly, (the commission) and staff looked at the special comments they had about the project, and the primary thrust was ‘don’t build the project,’ ” Wallis said. “But the problem was there was an existing project and they (the developer) already had the approval.”

“They have the right to build up there – once they get the permits from the regulatory agencies … so we couldn’t say, ‘We don’t want you to build anything there,’ ” he said.

Many residents’ concerns were addressed during what was a very long process of approval, Wallis said. For instance, one of the development’s exits will remain on Purdue Road – linking up to San Ramon Valley Boulevard to feed into Interstate 680 – much to the relief of many residents who protested a proposed change to Deerwood Road out of fear of increased traffic.

Also, more open space is going to be preserved – and a lot less cutting and filling of the area for construction will be needed than called for in the original plan, he said.

About 206 acres of the 288-acre residential project site are being preserved for recreation uses, said Cindy Yee, the city’s associate planner. The developer also is going to endow an additional 144 acres of open space next to the site to the East Bay Regional Park District. That amounts to about 80 percent of the property being dedicated to open space, she said.

So now “it’s a smaller and more environmentally friendly version of the original project,” Wallis said.

It’s not known when Lafferty Communities will start building homes, since they’ll first have to secure regulatory permits from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the state’s Fish and Wildlife Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, she said. Also, several years of grading and site development will be needed at the site. Pat Toohey, of Lafferty Communities, declined to comment.

Also, no automatic review by the City Council is required, at this point, but residents have 10 days from the time of the commission’s decision to appeal it, Wallis said, and if so, the matter will be called before the City Council.

See the original article at the San Jose Mercury News.