MARTINEZ -- In a sign that the far East Contra Costa housing market is again starting to make waves, county supervisors gave the go-ahead this week to a large gated development on Discovery Bay's west end that includes waterfront homes with docks.
Plans for the 292-unit Pantages Bay project also call for construction of a new sheriff's marine patrol substation, 47 acres of man-made bays and coves to provide water access for some of the homes, widening Kellogg Creek, 46 acres of open space and the addition of a public trail.
"They've been working on it for a number of years. It's an expensive project, especially with all the levee and channel work, but I see it as a significant benefit for the community overall," County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay said.
Mark Armstrong, one of the partners with Pantages Bay LLC, noted at the Dec. 3 meeting that the 171-acre project links the waterfront homes of the eastern side of Discovery Bay and the town's more landlocked western area.
Before recommending approval, Piepho raised a couple questions that had come up with prior subdivisions about parking, mailbox placement and dust and noise controls while digging out bays.
That work should take about a year and a half and should be contained mostly to cut and fill of the dirt on site, Armstrong said. The project's approval conditions also spell out how the spread of dirt will be kept to a minimum.
"There may be some drilling noise, but it will be no different than regular construction," Armstrong said.
Discovery Bay has seen home production slowly pick up in the past six to eight months, but is now starting to see requests for large subdivision approvals, said Catherine Kutsuris, the county's director of conservation and development.
"It's a pretty substantial investment," Kutsuris said of the Pantages project. "I think this shows a turn in the far East County area. It's a development we haven't seen in a while."
Adds Piepho: "It's definitely a harbinger of things to come. In the county in general, we're seeing (action from) more and more developments that were dormant for a number of years."
Kutsuris said a homebuilder seeking approvals for an entire subdivision shows it has confidence that the market for home sales will still be active two to three years down the road, she said.
Residents spoke in favor of the Pantages project at Tuesday's meeting.
Dave Ogden, who lives along Kellogg Creek, said the project is a "community asset" because it adds several safety measures on the water.
Expanding that channel make it easier and safer for local boaters to navigate a key stretch of waterway near where the coves meet the Delta, and boaters can travel faster. The current width of the creek is 60 feet, which residents says causes a backup of boaters. Plans say that width will at least double.
The new substation will allow the marine patrol to respond quicker in case of emergency than its current location on Lauritzen Yacht Harbor near the Antioch Bridge, county planners said.
"That will have a recreational benefit to everyone throughout in the Delta community, especially those that come from all over to fish or water ski," Piepho said.
With the approval, Patanges Bay now must work on more-complete design maps and other plans, permits from regulatory agencies and gain annexation for water and sewer service.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.