315-unit Lafayette apartment complex under review [Contra Costa Times]
(Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 05--LAFAYETTE -- A public hearing to discuss the impacts of building 315 apartments on a Lafayette hillside, including a portion of that land protected from development, will be held Monday.
Planning leaders will meet at 7 p.m. at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Community Hall to discuss an environmental report addressing various concerns about the Terraces of Lafayette, the apartment complex developers are hoping to build on a 22-acre lot on Deer Hill Road.
The O'Brien Land Company wants to place the apartments on the existing terraced hillside near Acalanes High School. The project has drawn numerous objections from residents about its size, its apparent clash with the city's desire to keep development consistent with Lafayette's "semirural" identity and how it may increase traffic in an already congested area.
The city began soliciting comments last year on a draft environmental report outlining possible construction effects on the air quality, biology and geology of the area. The document details what could be done to ease any resulting disruptions or changes, including the movement of 400,000 cubic yards of material.
Some of the major impacts and mitigations outlined in the report include:
--Blocked ridgeline views, placing a development on a site many consider a "visual resource" and the visibility of 14 two-and three-story residential buildings from Highway 24, which would diminish views of Lafayette Ridge. The report states that no mitigation measures would reduce those impacts to less-than-significant levels.
--An increased volume of police calls that could affect response times. The development would have an outdoor lighting plan and a video surveillance system. A private security company would provide routine patrols. Developers would also pay a police impact fee to support additional personnel and equipment.
--Increased traffic delays of up to nine seconds at the Deer Hill Road, Stanley Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road intersection and other nearby circulation impacts. While the report says there are no ways to remedy the delays at Deer Hill Road/Stanley Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road, the project's applicants will help pay to install a traffic signal equipped with a special system for emergency vehicles at the Brown Avenue/Deer Hill Road intersection.
The report also details possible measures to ease strains on BART parking, including setting up a shuttle bus to get residents to and from the station during peak commute hours until a bus route is established, widening sidewalks and creating safer bike and pedestrian pathways near the development.
Property owner Anna Maria Dettmer submitted plans in 2011 to develop the former "Christmas tree lot" in an area the city considers the most "significantly underdeveloped" in the community. The land is zoned for offices but multifamily housing is allowed with a permit.
The owner's attorneys also take exception to some aspects of the report. They dispute the project's location in a protected ridgeline zone and believe city leaders are trying to rezone the project to allow one unit per five acres. The project's density is 14 dwelling units per acre, according to city data.
Jennifer Modenessi covers Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga. Contact her at 925-943-8378. Follow her at Twitter.com/jmodenessi.
(c)2013 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
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