Wednesday, December 19, 2007

City Planners Peruse Southtown Revision

City Planners Peruse Southtown Revision
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

Most planning commissioners found something to like Tuesday night in a revised plan for phase two of a Vacaville housing development, but at least some remained concerned about issues raised by city staff.

Developer D.R. Horton had submitted the revised plan in September for phase two of Southtown, which encompasses 48 acres along Vanden Road. The new concept calls for 201 single-family lots "in small lot and wide shallow lot configurations," according to a report by city staff, whereas a cluster-style arrangement was proposed before.

The entire Southtown development area encompasses 280 acres and will include an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 single- and multi-family homes. Phase one is already under way, with more than 80 homes reportedly under construction to date.

According to staff, the new concept seems to diverge from what was intended when Southtown was approved in 2004. The original plan featured several housing types and densities tied in to an open-space trail system.

"The record for the Southtown approval," according to staff's report, "indicates that the area was envisioned to provide variations in product design that would result in distinct neighborhood villages with a range of housing opportunities."

Staff explained that the developer would need exceptions to the General Plan, zoning rules and development standards for the project to move forward.

The project architect and engineer, as well as a D.R. Horton representative, supported the project from the podium. Vince Fletcher, director of land acquisition for the developer, said D.R. Horton is "giving the buyer something they want."

"I think the product we're proposing is far superior to the cluster product we had before," he said.

Tuesday's meeting was the commission's opportunity to review and comment, and most commissioners liked at least some aspects of the proposal.

"What they've proposed are smaller, more attainable homes, so it seemed like a good idea to me," said Commissioner Dan Broadwater.

Commissioner Joe Niccoli said, "If it were me, as a consumer, I like the product they were proposing tonight versus what was proposed before," he said, adding, "I think it is a superior product and more visually appealing than cluster."

However, he said, "but we still need to deal with the issues that staff has raised," One of the unresolved issues for him was side-yard setbacks.

The proposal did not seem to have enough diversity to suit Commissioner Shannon Nadasdy.

"I really just like variation in design," she said. "You can appeal to a broader cross-set of our community."

After Tuesday night's study session, it is the City Council's turn to consider the proposal. A date has not been set for that discussion.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

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