Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Council Approves Villages Project

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, Sep 20, 2005 - 11:38:09 pm PDT

Council Approves Villages Project
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - The City Council on Tuesday decided the proposed Villages at Fairfield housing development west of Travis Air Force Base is the type of pedestrian-friendly community it wants.

Councilmembers want a place where people can easily walk or bike to such destinations as a school and shopping center. The Villages offers one of the few remaining chances within city growth boundaries to design such a new community on a large scale.

"This project seems to crystallize the concepts we've been talking about over the years," Mayor Karin MacMillan said.

City Councilman Jack Batson agreed.

"It would be difficult for me to begin to point out the many benefits of the project," Batson said.

Taking all the necessary votes to approve the Villages will stretch over two meetings. The council certified the environmental study and amended the General Plan on Tuesday, but must take one more vote to approve a development agreement and zoning changes.

City Councilwoman Marilyn Farley cast the sole negative vote, and that only on the environmental report. The council had to issue a "statement of overriding considerations" on the air pollution that will be caused by autos in the Villages. Farley wanted more done to cut the smog, given high asthma rates in the area.

The Villages is to have 2,327 homes and apartments on 434 acres near Clay Bank and Cement Hill roads. The developer, Lewis Planned Communities, has worked with the city to refine its plans for about three years.

Among the features planned for the Villages at Fairfield are:

- Homecoming, a 628-unit apartment complex. It is to include a recreation building with game room, library and exercise room, as well as such outdoor facilities as a swimming pool, putting green and barbecue area.

- Laurel Creek Plaza, 3.4-acre shopping center to be built at Clay Bank Road and Air Base Parkway.

- A new Linear Park trail segment along an abandon railroad right-of-way. This segment is to someday link with the existing segment in central Fairfield.

- About 120 acres to be dedicated by the developer as permanent open space.

- A 2,400-square-foot neighborhood center to be built by the developer next to the planned school.

Vice Mayor Harry Price last year wanted to make certain Travis Air Force Base personnel could afford housing in the Villages. The final Lewis proposal reserves 130 of the Homecoming units for Travis personnel. Rent will be based on the military's housing allowance rate.

MacMillan and Farley last year expressed concern about having the shopping center at Clay Bank Road and Air Base Parkway. Farley wanted the Laurel Creek Plaza located toward the middle of the new community, not on the periphery. Then it could create a kind of town center.

But the developers wanted the shopping center on these two major streets. Besides serving the Villages, the center will serve nearby existing neighborhoods, they said. In this case, they didn't make a change.

"I guess I've accepted it," Farley said Tuesday, adding this aspect didn't warrant voting against the project.

MacMillan noted the developer will build the parks and traffic improvements early in the project. All major traffic improvements associated with the Villages must be started by the time the 250th building permit is pulled.

"You listened. You took action. And it's much appreciated," MacMillan said.

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

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