PLEASANTON -- The iffy future of a century-old house has put plans for a new single-family home development on hold.

Despite a recommendation from the city staff to approve the plan for 4202 Stanley Blvd., the Planning Commission voted unanimously against the project at its Wednesday night meeting.

In October, Ponderosa Homes submitted a proposal to demolish the existing residences on the property, remove the 32 mobile home spaces and construct 14 single-family homes -- which has since been reduced to 12 new homes.

The biggest bone of contention is the future of the 1912 house that sits on the 2.1-acre plot.

"Our concern is the house and a plan or lack thereof," said Jennifer Pearce, who leads the commission. "We might have supported the project if the applicant had come back to us with a plan for the house."

She said that although the proposed craftsman and English cottage-style architecture is "great," the lack of a plan for the historic home is a stumbling block.

Ponderosa Homes originally wanted to rip out the old structure and build 14 houses, but the Planning Commission decided to first evaluate the home's historic significance. The evaluation is not yet complete.

"I feel the project and the application are premature," Pearce said.

Ponderosa Homes has since negotiated with the property owner to remove the old house from the purchase agreement and fence it off from the proposed development.


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Pamela Hardy, an official with Ponderosa Homes, says the company looked into moving the home to another site, as well as examining the costs of bringing it up to code and safety standards.

—It's cost-prohibitive to pick up and move the house," she said. "If anyone wanted to live there today, they'd want to gut the place."

She added that Ponderosa is agreeable to keeping the house on the current lot, but the company has no plans to improve it.

Another issue is a proposed pedestrian walkway from the housing development to Vervais Avenue. Brian Dolan, the director of community development, said the walkway would offer residents a shortcut to nearby Main Street.

"The walkway also leads to a site that is to be developed into a park," said Dolan, who pointed out that Ponderosa's proposal doesn't include any open space.

Hardy said Ponderosa opposed that, adding: "It presents a safety and security risk to residents."

There was also debate about the removal of 29 of the 39 trees on the property, including 18 heritage trees.

Before voting on the project, Pearce asked Hardy if she'd like an "up or down" vote on the spot, or if she'd like to keep working on the problems with city staff.

"I would like a vote tonight so that we can take the project to City Council," Hardy said.

In response to a question from commissioner Herb Ritter, city staff members confirmed that the City Council could vote to just get rid of the house and let the project move ahead.