LAFAYETTE — A single-family home development pitched as an alternative to a proposed massive apartment complex alongside Highway 24 is undergoing intense city council scrutiny to determine whether the project is a go.
Lawmakers are reviewing the Homes at Deer Hill development, a 44-single-family-home project with an array of public amenities developer O”Brien Land Company wants to build on the site of an old quarry and former Christmas tree lot at the corner of Deer Hill and Pleasant Hill Roads. The city council launched an extensive public review of the proposal this week after months of analysis by numerous city commissions. Vice Mayor Traci Reilly is not participating in the discussions, continuing to recuse herself because she signed a petition related to the original Terraces project before joining the council in 2012.
Developers are seeking numerous approvals from the city, including a land use change to allow homes at the site instead of offices; a zoning change to allow low density housing and an array of permits including those for tree removal, grading and hillside development.
The city council hearings kicked off Monday with questions about maps that seem to show different versions of the housing development. Councilman Mike Anderson asked planning staff to make available diagrams reflecting the project”s current ground plan, including slight changes to the homes internal layout.
“There”s a lot of evidence that”s been surveyed and engineered to look like this. Now you”re saying it”s not going to look like this. I think we need to clean that up. I think that it”s very important that people understand what we”re talking about going into this thing.” Anderson said.
Council members also asked for more information about vegetation used for screening the homes and parking and pedestrian access within the site. Developers are planning to use trees, plants and other devices to screen the homes and make them less visible from their hillside location.
The questions followed an extensive recap of the project”s history, including a reminder that the original application for the Terraces of Lafayette apartment development remains on hold. That project calls for 315 moderate-income apartments contained in 14 buildings on the 22.2 acre site owned by the AMD Family Trust.
The city introduced the Homes at Deer Hill alternative in late 2013 following threats of a lawsuit by developers over the Terrace”s certified environmental impact report.
At least one resident took aim at the city about having to consider either project as spelled out in a legal agreement.
“We either put up or shut up. In other words, we get the 40 houses or we get the 300, but we don”t have a choice of saying absolutely no,” said Nancy Spittler, before suggesting the city buy the property from the owners and turn it into soccer fields.
Other residents criticized what they said were hasty reviews by city commissions that refused to look more deeply at traffic impacts and questions surrounding the location of a proposed roundabout at an intersection on Deer Hill Road, among other issues.
“Everybody is completely overlooking the forest for the trees here,” said resident Hunter Davis. “Everything”s being really rushed along.”
Supporter Greg Woehrle praised the council for asking what he said were good questions about the project, and suggested working collaboratively to find solutions to various issues with the project. “We can”t lose sight that this is an alternative to something that was already on the books proposed at a much greater density and potentially a different use,” Woehrle said. The review continues at the June 22 council meeting.