DANVILLE -- Neighbors and members of Save Open Space Danville turned out in force Tuesday night to protest a proposed SummerHill Homes project at Magee Ranch.
The Planning Commission held the public hearing at the Danville Community Center on the draft environmental report for the project that proposes 70 houses on 410 acres of ranchland southeast of Diablo and McCauley roads.
The meeting took on a tone of opposition similar to that seen at recent Planning Commission meetings on the town's controversial update of its general plan.
"They want us to give you all of the considerations and the permissions to do whatever you want to the town, and subsequently we have to say enough is enough," resident Celia Beard told the commission to applause from the audience.
The environmental report has been posted on the town's website and is in a state-mandated minimum 45-day public review and comment period.
About 200 neighbors showed up for the hearing. Nearly all of the nearly two dozen who spoke were opposed to the SummerHill Homes project.
The main issue for most was fear of more traffic congestion on Diablo Road, which several speakers said is already congested especially during school drop off and pick up times. Crowding in schools from new residents and the loss of agricultural land and red-legged frog habitat were also concerns among speakers.
Members of Save Open Space Danville -- a grass-roots organization of hundreds of local residents -- want the public to vote under the Measure S open space protection initiative on whether the project should go forward. The town has maintained that the sale of the property by Jed Magee and potential development by SummerHill doesn't require a vote under measure guidelines.
"I'm opposed to this blatant attempt to circumvent the rights of Danville voters, pursuant to Measure S," said Bob Nealis, who ran unsuccessfully for the town council last election. Nealis centered his campaign around opposition to the SummerHill plan.
At the meeting's end, commissioners echoed many concerns voiced by residents. The commission then directed the town's staff to have Denise Duffy & Associates, consultants on the environmental impact report (EIR), to address concerns about bicycle and pedestrian trail access and safety, traffic mitigation, habitat concerns, and to use updated traffic counts on Diablo Road, among other things.
The commission will revisit the report after concerns have been addressed, no date was set for a new hearing. Then commissioners will make recommendations to the council, which will decide whether to accept the report.
"I feel like the public certainly was heard," commission Chair Lynn Overcashier said of the meeting. "I feel like everyone got the opportunity to say what they wanted. I hope the public understands that the planning commission not only listens but has similar concerns about the adequacy of the EIR."
Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.