July 27, 2005
OK near on homes plan with high school plot
By David Henson/Staff Writer
After a year-long courtship by a Danville-based homebuilder, the Dixon City Council essentially married itself Monday night to the developer's plans - in spite of some concerns.
Brookfield Homes is planning a 520-unit subdivision, which will include both single-family homes and an assisted-living facility for senior citizens.
In addition, the project site also has ties to a proposed new high school and a needed city drainage pond, which were part of Monday's proceedings.
While two key pieces remain before the Brookfield project is ready for final approval - a development agreement and tentative map, Monday's certification of the Brookfield environmental impact report commits Dixon to the subdivision's basic concept, City Manager Warren Salmons said.
And that's good news for anxious Dixon Unified School District officials, as it means their proposed new high school on an adjacent tract of land will go forward on-time and on-budget.
"One way or another we will build a high school," Superintendent Wally Holbrook said at Monday's meeting. "If this project doesn't go through as proposed, we can't build the high school on the budget proposed and the timeline proposed with all the amenities we all want."
In a deal that helped encourage city officials to rearrange housing restrictions under a limited-growth measure, Brookfield Homes pledged 40 acres toward the new high school. In addition, the developer has promised to provide site-grading and infrastructure to the site, hopefully beginning within the next few weeks, said Brookfield Vice President Pete Petersen.
Some, such as Councilman Steve Alexander, have said the project violates Measure B's 3-percent limit on growth. However, most on the council, including one of the measure's architects, Loren Ferrero, said the project maintains the spirit of limited and smart growth.
The project's location outside the city limits was a necessity as well, in order to make the land affordable for the school district, according to Vice Mayor Gil Vega.
Despite a heated argument Monday night between one outspoken critic and city council members, public reaction to the three-tiered project has been overwhelmingly supportive.
Still, community members and city officials have expressed concerns that were also highlighted in the Brookfield EIR, such as increasing traffic congestion.
Under the current plan, the proposed development and high school could only be accessed by one road, Parkway Boulevard at Highway 113.
Other worries included a lack of fire protection if a proposed new substation is delayed beyond Brookfield's home construction start date of 2008.
There is also the possibility that the historically-significant Bloom House could be razed in the process of building the senior citizens facility.
Those concerns, along with mitigation measures, however, could be addressed within the development agreement or during approval of the tentative map, officials added.
Judging from past relations among the three involved parties - the school district, city and developer - hammering out the final two elements of the deal is not expected to be too contentious or to drag on for months.
"It's been a very intensive year where a partnership really has developed," Petersen said.
David Henson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
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