MORAGA -- A luxury townhome and cottage development near a Moraga-Orinda Fire District station is moving ahead, as are preparations for a soundwall to address potential noise impacts to the subdivision.

However, some fire district board members have deep reservations about the project's location next to the fire station and training facilities, among other issues.

During an update to the board this week on plans for 36 residences along Moraga Way -- pitched by San Francisco-based City Ventures -- Fire Chief Stephen Healy told directors the developer will build a 7- to 8-foot soundwall designed to minimize noise from neighboring MOFD Station 41. Grading part of a hill on the district's property and subsequent paving are also part of the plans, Healy said.

While the chief requested no action from the board, directors made several recommendations to Healy about matters they want addressed by developers. They include ensuring residents are clear about the impacts of living near a fire station through homeowners association covenants, conditions and restrictions. They also suggested producing a video depicting a day of training -- which can include fire, smoke and chain saw noise -- that the developer and broker would be required to show to potential buyers.

Fire directors also proposed moving an entry and exit point on Moraga Way they said is close to the facility, and suggested a proposed children's playground be moved from behind the Station 41 training area. The board also opposes the extension of a bike and pedestrian trail onto district property.


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But for at least one director, the proposal can't be fixed up enough.

"This is the wrong place to put (the development) and frankly, I would like to see the board tell the (town) council that this is the wrong place to put it," said director Fred Weil.

The project is now in the design review phase, and will be the subject of another town discussion in May to consider the pedestrian/bike trail among other issues, said Moraga Planning Director Shawna Brekke-Read.

Any subsequent decisions on the project by the planning commission following design review recommendations are conditional on town council approval, Brekke-Read said.

First pitched in 2012 for between Country Club Drive and Moraga Way, plans initially showed 55 townhomes on about three vacant acres bordering the MOFD administration building, fire station and training grounds.

Developers have since revised the project, whittling down the number of homes to 15 two-story cottages and 21 2½-story townhomes following community concerns about the number of residences, Brekke-Read said. City Ventures has proposed open space, a children's play area and a creekside park as part of the project.

Fire board members, residents and the district's legal counsel have previously questioned building homes beside the fire station and the development's impacts on fire and emergency services.

Fire district attorney Steven Meyers brought up the compatibility issue years ago during a discussion of the town's Moraga Center Specific Plan, which calls for new retail and single-family and other housing north of the Moraga shopping center. The fire station and proposed housing are both within the plan area; Meyers argued that development could have a significant negative impact on fire and emergency services, including increased demands for service.

According to Healy, the soundwall and the grading will be entirely funded by developers and will provide numerous benefits -- including savings -- to the district.