HAYWARD -- Developers of a half-finished project high in the Hayward hills have been given five more years to build the rest of the planned high-end 550 homes.

Stonebrae Country Club already has a golf course with stunning views that is a stop on the PGA Tour. Developers also built Stonebrae Elementary School, which opened in 2006. But while construction of houses has continued during the economic downturn, it has slowed down, with only 250 of houses occupied.

The Hayward City Council voted 7-0 Tuesday to allow Stonebrae Country Club more time to build up to 300 more houses along Walpert Ridge off Fairview Avenue and Hayward Boulevard. There were no comments during the public hearing on the proposal.

Stonebrae, earlier known as Blue Rock Country Club Development, was proposed by Hayward 1900 and approved by the council in 1998. The project was fought by environmentalists and others concerned about loss of habitat for threatened species and increased traffic.

Environmentalists and developers eventually reached an agreement, with Stonebrae scheduled to turn the bulk of the land over to East Bay Regional Park District to preserve habitat for the threatened Alameda whipsnake and California red-legged frog.

"The economic recession has affected the project completion," city planning manager Richard Patenaude told the council Tuesday. He said the developer expects to be able to complete the project in five years as the economy begins to improve.

In addition to the houses, the country club will begin construction on a permanent clubhouse in April. The new building, which will include banquet facilities, is expected to be finished in about a year.

The agreement for the development included some improvements along Fairview Avenue, including a roundabout at Woodstock Road to slow traffic, which has not been built.

Steve Miller, executive officer of Stonebrae Country Club, said Wednesday that city staff members had said there may be alternatives to a roundabout, such as speed bumps or median strips, that should be considered. The three-way intersection currently has stop signs.

"We think the intersection is functioning, but we might be able to make it better. Do we do a roundabout in addition to the stop signs or something else?" he said. "The next step is to come up with a couple of ideas acceptable to city and then take it to the public, especially our neighbors, to get their opinion." Miller added that the decision ultimately is up to the city.

The entire project covers 1,600 acres, with housing on 325 of those and the golf course on roughly 75 to 100 acres.

Most of the land, 1,000 acres, will be transferred to the park district. The staff report said the transfer was expected by this spring or summer.

"What's the holdup?" Councilman Al Mendall asked.

Miller said that California Fish and Game had taken longer than expected to sign off on a conservation easement to protect the Alameda whipsnake and California red-legged frog, but things were proceeding and there was no disagreement between developers and the park district.

"When dealing with government entities, sometimes they don't go as quickly as people would like," he said Wednesday.

Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1. Read her blog at ibabuzz.com/hayword.