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Frank Abejo, left, project planner for the city of Concord, listens to David Current ask why trees on Current's property along Olive Drive are proposed to be removed, during a meeting at Concord City Hall in Concord, Calif., on Monday, March 4, 2013. Michael Richter, a project manager with Discovery Builders Inc., said he was standing in at the meeting for developer Jackie Seeno who is proposing building six large homes. The large size of the homes, parking and removing all the trees on the property were some of the issues discussed between neighbors and the city. The neighbors have accused Seeno of destroying an owl habitat on the property where she plans to develop six homes. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)

CONCORD -- A group of residents opposing a Seeno company housing plan met with city planners twice over the last week to discuss concerns ranging from the size of the homes to the spraying of chemicals on the site.

The meetings followed the latest confrontation between residents on Olive Drive and developer Jackie Seeno. On Feb. 28, neighbor Rylle Jones called police and City Hall to report that Seeno workers wearing surgical masks were spraying chemicals.

A city inspector who responded to the call issued a stop-work order, according to senior planner Frank Abejo.

Jones and other neighbors said the unknown chemicals could kill wildlife on the property, including mice, and alter the city biologist's report. The biologist visited the property Tuesday.

"We think they were spraying chemicals to kill wildlife," said Jones' wife, Vicci Stillwell. "They wouldn't tell us what was being sprayed."

The city hired the independent biologist to settle a dispute between neighbors and Seeno over a home for barn owls, formerly on the proposed housing site.

A biologist hired by Seeno concluded in an earlier report that there were no active nests on site, resulting in the recent removal of a wooden structure on the property. Its removal outraged residents, who say barn owls have lived there since the 1950s.

Seeno has said she is saving her comments for public hearings on the project. A Design Review Board hearing is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. March 14, at the Concord Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Drive, Building D.


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Discovery Builders, a Seeno family company, plans to build six homes at 4985 Olive Drive, each with a net square footage above 8,000. None of the homes will face Olive Drive. Neighbors have complained that the homes are too big; they would be the only two-story homes on the street.

"These houses don't fit in our neighborhood," said Stillwell at a meeting Monday. "They're too big. The amount of people they are going to add into our neighborhood."

"The project is boxing itself in and boxing us out," said another neighbor, Dennis Almond.

Others have expressed concern about the proposed removal of 11 trees protected under the city code. The city recommends a developer plant three trees for every tree removed, but neighbors say that won't make up for removing such mature trees.

David Current, who lives next door to the proposed site, said four of the trees identified are actually on his property. He has no plans to cut them down.

"I'll tell you what," Current said, "it'll never happen."

Abejo, the city planner, said he would look into the matter.

David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.

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