DANVILLE -- It took 2¿1/2 years, many revisions, and a marathon six-hour meeting, but SummerHill Homes finally received approval from the Danville Town Council to move ahead with a 69-home project off Diablo Road.

At the end of the public meeting, which lasted into the wee hours Wednesday, council members unanimously approved the long-debated development that will be set on 38 acres of a 410-acre Magee Ranches property bordered by Diablo and McCauley roads.

"We're very excited to obtain the approval and we're looking forward to the grand opening in a couple of years," said SummerHill CEO Robert Freed.

The project will include 66 single-family homes on the east side of the Magee Ranch property -- average lot size of 13,000 to14,000 square feet -- and three larger lots on the west side off McCauley Road.

First planned for 78 lots, the project's most recent revision put the open space to 372 acres. Developers say it will give public access to currently inaccessible area.

"It's a real gem in Danville, so to be able to preserve 91 percent of that land is really a huge benefit," said SummerHill's vice president of development, Wendi Baker.

The meeting drew about 80 people, with the dozen-plus speakers divided between supporters and opponents. Concerns centered around traffic the development would add to Diablo and Green Valley roads and worsening conditions they said already threaten the safety of cyclists on their way to Mount Diablo.


Advertisement

Clelen Tanner, a cyclist and member of Save Open Space-Danville, warned that with cars regularly crossing the double-yellow line on Diablo Road to avoid riders, and the road's blind turns, it could lead to tragedy on what he called the "Khyber Pass of Danville."

"It's very dangerous," he said. "There's just no room for bike-rider traffic on this road."

Cyclists asked for widening of the road from Green Valley Road to Mount Diablo Scenic Boulevard, with bike paths on either side.

However, Tai Williams, the town's community development director, said such a project would cost at least $15 million and require removing more than 150 trees.

Council members voted to ask for the ability to widen Diablo Road at some future date, and required two flashing radar signs to slow drivers down to be paid for by the developer.

Developer-funded improvements at the intersection of Diablo and Green Valley roads would also reduce wait times by up to 25 percent, town officials said.

The proposal drew the support of officials of the environmental group Save Mount Diablo, who said the project would protect ridges and provide connecting open space trails with almost no impact on Green Valley Creek.

"We think this is an incredibly sensitive proposal with huge public benefits," said Seth Adams, a land programs director for the group. "It's a good project from our perspective."

Opponents argued the project should've fallen under provisions of Measure S, an open space initiative requiring a public vote on general plan amendments that change land uses.

Danville's principal planner, David Crompton, said the project didn't trigger Measure S because the number of homes is under the allowable limits for the land's zoning.

The council voted for the project 5-0, but Mayor Newell Arnerich debated with council members on the three homes on McCauley, adamant that a single estate-size unit would have less impact on traffic. Despite that, Arnerich ultimately supported the development, crediting SummerHill with meeting the requirements of Measure S, and the town's stringent building standards.

Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.