Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fairfield City Council endorses Fairfield Corporate Commons addition

Article Last Updated: Wednesday, Sep 21, 2005 - 11:35:25 pm PDT

City Council endorses Fairfield Corporate Commons addition

By Barry Eberling

- A proposed "smart growth" project along Interstate 80 featuring offices, apartments and townhouses has all but won city approval.

The City Council late Tuesday endorsed the Fairfield Corporate Commons addition. All that remains is for the council to take the necessary second votes at a future meeting on zoning changes and a development agreement.

Fairfield Corporate Commons East is on 79 acres at Suisun Valley Road and Kaiser Drive. It is to have 10 office buildings, 256 apartments/condominium units and 153 townhouses. It could have a 150-room hotel. The developer is the Garaventa family.

"Smart growth" ideas promote having high-density development near job centers.

"To me, if people can live close to where they're going to work, the quality of life is much better for everybody," Vice Mayor Harry Price said on Wednesday.

City Councilwoman Marilyn Farley had a concern with the project, though. It is to be built near Interstate 80 and the California Highway Patrol truck scales.

The environmental study said trucks passing on the freeway and stopping at the scales release diesel particulate matter. Residents at the proposed development would be exposed to elevated levels of toxic air contaminates, it said.

To compensate for this, the study calls for forced-air ventilation systems on the residences. People who move there should get a notification describing the possible health effects from truck pollution, it said.

The City Council voted for a "statement of overriding considerations" on air pollution to certify the environmental study. Farley cast the lone "no" vote, though she voted "yes" on the other aspects of the project.

In general, she likes the idea of having housing near Solano Community College and other uses, Farley said. She likes the look of the project, she said.

But she wouldn't feel good voting for a project that must issue air pollution warnings to prospective residents, she said.

"I had hoped my colleagues would agree that maybe this isn't a good place for housing," Farley said Wednesday.

City Council members Tuesday got a memorandum that recapped some points in the environmental study on air pollution.

Residents living at Fairfield Corporate Commons would have an additional chance of getting cancer. The risk increase is 1 to 60 cases per 1 million people over a lifetime, the memorandum said.

But the health risk can vary in real-life cases. For example, a person moving to Fairfield Corporate Commons from such polluted places as Los Angeles would see their risk for smog-related health problems drop, the memorandum said.

When completely built, the project is expected to have 1,200 residents and provide 3,000 jobs.

The proposed North Connector freeway reliever route is to pass through the project. The North Connector is designed to take local traffic traveling between Green Valley and central Fairfield off of I-80.

Without the North Connector, the project would cause "significant and unavoidable" traffic congestion at the already crowded Lopes Road/east I-80 ramps and Business Center Drive/Green Valley Road intersection, the environmental study said.

But, with the North Connector, the project will not significantly increase traffic there, the study said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

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