LIVERMORE -- After hearing from a room full of neighborhood opposition to the project, the Livermore Planning Commission on Tuesday recommended denial of a 47-unit residential home development slated for the Garaventa Hills area of North Livermore.
Commissioners voted 4-1 against approving the project, planned for 32 acres east of North Vasco Road on a hilly site used by hikers and situated at the northern edge of the city's Urban Growth Boundary. Previous attempts to develop the land as part of the Maralisa subdivision were unsuccessful.
"I'm hopeful there will be a way to develop this parcel," said commission chair Loretta Kaskey. "We seem to be inching toward it ... but at this point I don't think we have everything lined up."
About 70 attendees, many of them sporting t-shirts reading "Save The Hill," filed into City Council Chambers for the commission's decision. Speakers argued the proposed development would have adverse effects on a sensitive environment, worsen traffic on Bear Creek Drive and Laughlin Road, and limit scenic views of the knolls and the Brushy Peak Regional Preserve.
"It was really heartening to know that a grassroots movement could influence the commission," said Marnie Steele, a member of the group. "We understand there's more roads to come, but it's really nice we could organize and be heard."
"This is a great win for us," said James Wilk, who has rallied against the project since 2012. "We are excited about this and we want to continue this fight."
The Garaventa Hills parcel lies adjacent to the Altamont Creek and contains wetland resources, prompting the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District to issue a letter to planning commissioners voicing concern over its sensitive nature.
Save the Hill members, who said they had gathered more than 200 signatures opposing the proposal, said the commission's decision to deny a recommendation to the city council will give them time to pursue purchasing the land.
"The hill is a very environmentally delicate site," said member Cindy Angers. "We want to keep it as open space in perpetuity."
Developer Lafferty Communities refused to comment on the commission's decision.
Prior to the vote, the developer's attorney Richard Norris appealed to commission members to continue the item. The request was denied.
"We think there are opportunities for us to do better and bring back a changed project that addresses the concerns," Norris said. "We have a huge investment in this project so far that goes away (with the decision)."
However, if Lafferty does choose to move ahead with a revised version of the project, it could still be considered by the city council at a future meeting.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.