Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lagoon: Round 2

Lagoon: Round 2
Scrutiny For Project; Urban Limits For City

At each step along the legal path, judges have correctly supported the city of Vacaville's command and control of development of a small portion of lower Lagoon Valley. The state Supreme Court this month concurred as well.
It was no surprise.

So perhaps the project can now proceed or fail on its own merits, not the wishes of a group of opponents who were years late in mounting a protest. Friends of Lagoon Valley, the small band of passionate foes, has promised to challenge the project at each step of the permitting process. And though we believe the project is well planned and will bring more public benefit than harm, we salute the group's willingness to do battle in the appropriate arena.

The city, the state and federal agencies must grant permits in order for Triad Communities to complete its plan for a modest number of homes, offices and recreational uses tucked away in the western quadrant of the valley. The process includes review and scrutiny of the project's environmental impact. It should be closely monitored.

As we have said repeatedly, as frustrating as it may be now to those who prefer no change in the valley, the decision to annex it and allow limited development was made more than a decade ago. That battle culminated when the City Council banned development from Cherry Glen and Upper Lagoon valleys, but agreed that some of the lower valley could be built upon.

Overall, the Lagoon Valley project comprises 1,025 housing units - 874 single-family homes, 100 townhouses for seniors and 51 affordable housing units - integrated with a town retail center, a business village that will create jobs, a firehouse built at no cost to taxpayers, a golf course and an array of environmental benefits, including hundreds of acres of open space.

When completed, the project will bring at least $4 million in improvements to Lagoon Valley Park, a regional recreation area that is underused because of its many problems, including a lake in need of a massive cleanup. Homes and offices will be located strategically to retain the view corridor from Interstate 80, giving passers-by a clear look at the lake and regional park.

The focus of our attention on growth matters should shift to the impending proposal to draw a so-called "urban limit line" around the city of Vacaville. This will be put forward by the developer in Lagoon Valley, part of a negotiated agreement with the Greenbelt Alliance and other environmental groups, which eventually dropped their opposition to Triad's valley plan.

Such a boundary would be a "line in the sand" for future development within the city of Vacaville. It would be a line over which the city would not annex. The idea is to create the ultimate boundaries of Vacaville.

Because there are so many landowners, developers and speculators who have so much at risk, depending on where the lines are drawn and how it would affect property values, this has all the makings of a very contentious process. The city has established buffers to the south and west. An agreement with the Solano Irrigation District restricts development no farther east than a few hundred yards from Leisure Town Road. What could prove most contentious is where the line is drawn to the north, into Pleasants Valley, Bucktown and Gibson Canyon, or along Interstate 505.
Drawing the lines to satisfy all is not possible. Or at least, it would take the wisdom of Solomon and all the mediation skills of a genius. But the sooner the first proposed lines are drawn, the sooner we can all leap into the fray. And the sooner, the better.

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