Monday, September 19, 2005

Rural housing gets OK for a 32-home gated community in the rural hills north of Vacaville

Article Last Updated: 9/17/2005 08:01 AM

Rural housing gets OK

By Jason Massad/Staff Writer

A controversial proposal for a 32-home gated community in the rural hills north of Vacaville was approved this week by the Solano County Planning Commission.
The 4-1 vote, with new commissioner Stephanie Gomes dissenting, forwards the plan for the 80-acre Dove Creek Ranch subdivision to the Solano County Board of Supervisors.

The board is scheduled to review the proposal at its regular meeting Nov. 1.

Sure to greet the board at that meeting is a group of residents who live near the development, proposed to be built on old cattle-grazing land between Peaceful Glen and Cantelow roads.

Residents nearby are concerned that the gated development, with landscaped lawns and a fence around it, might detract from the rural beauty of the area and foster even more development.

Sandy DeGeorge, who lives on nearby Dry Creek Trail, said she is still hopeful that a compromise on some of the more divisive elements of the development could still be agreed to.

"We left the meeting last (Thursday) night and it was a bit depressing," she said. "But there's no reason to be upset. We want to see it proceed in an intelligent fashion that's not harmful to the surrounding property owners. It's not a win-lose situation."

The main bone of contention among residents is a development plan that seemingly skirts 2.5-acre minimum parcel sizes established in the rural hills.

The development would average out to 2.5 acres per house, but it would cluster top-of-the-line custom homes on lots ranging from 1.3 to 3.8 acres.

County officials and Dove Creek developers say the arrangement is made possible under a rarely invoked "policy plan overlay" district, aimed at fostering smart development in the unincorporated areas.

Possible environmental impacts on the property, including a stock pond favored by wildlife and seasonal Sweeney Creek, can be avoided by the arrangement.

But Planning Commissioner John Moore, at the meeting to discuss the proposal, said he was skeptical about the use of the planning device, proposed only for the never-built White Wing development in Fairfield.

"If the code says the zoning will allow 2 1/2 acres, the average person would think that means 2 1/2 acres," he said. "If I understand correctly, you just said that was a guideline."

Opponents of the proposal argued this week that 2.5-acre minimum lot sizes are necessary for septic systems that will be needed for each of the new homes.

Clustering the subdivision could create problems about the sewage properly draining or could possibly contaminate nearby wells, they argued.

Residents also worry what the "policy plan overlay" district might mean for the future.

As part of the Dove Creek Ranch Development, a road will link Peaceful Glen and Cantelow roads. To the south of the Dove Creek Ranch proposal, is another parcel of about 100 acres that could now be accessed for more development.

"This sets a precedent for everything that they are going to do later on," said Barbara Havlin, who lives near the development. "

Jason Massad can be reached at

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