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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 23

Meeting Date: June 14, 2005

Subject/Title: An appeal of the Planning Commission decision to deny the General Plan Amendment (GPA 01-01) and Rezone (RZ 05-04) for the 135-acre mixed-use Bridle Gate project, located west of the State Route 4 Bypass, on both sides of the Sand Creek Road extension.

Prepared by: Erik Nolthenius, Senior Planner

Submitted by: Howard Sword, Community Development Director

RECOMMENDATION
Review this report and all attachments, take public testimony, and move to either approve or deny the requested appeal.

PREVIOUS ACTION
Special Planning Area (SPA) E was approved by the City Council on November 27, 2001, as part of the General Plan Update. An RGMP allocation for the project site was approved by the City Council on January 11, 2005. GPA 01-01 and RZ 05-04 were denied by the Planning Commission on April 19, 2005.

BACKGROUND
Land uses surrounding the Bridle Gate project site include Old Sand Creek Road and undeveloped agricultural land to the north, the State Route 4 Bypass, undeveloped agricultural land, and the Sand Creek Crossing shopping center to the east, single-family residential homes in the Brentwood Hills subdivision to the south, and the Brentwood/Antioch City limit line to the west. The proposed project would need approval of the following five entitlements:

• A Development Agreement (DA 04-02) to govern the phasing, development, and construction of the public infrastructure and the project.

• A General Plan Amendment (GPA 01-01) to modify the text of Special Planning Area (SPA) E, including the proposed land use mix and grading for the project.

• A Rezone (RZ 05-04) to establish development standards for both the residential and commercial/ business park portions of the project site.

• A Vesting Tentative Subdivision Map (VTSM 8506) to subdivide approximately 135 acres into 166 single-family residential lots, a 32.21-acre open space parcel, a 4.06-acre neighborhood park, two pocket parks totaling 1.11 acres, landscape areas totaling 3.62 acres, and a future 35.28-acre mixed-use business park and regional commercial site.

• A Design Review (DR 01-12) for 16 models of single-family homes, including all related improvements, to be constructed on the 166 proposed lots.

The project was considered by the Planning Commission as a public hearing item on April 19, 2005. After a significant amount of discussion, the Planning Commission voted 4-1 (Commissioner Stirling voted no) to deny the General Plan Amendment and Rezone. The remaining entitlements were continued indefinitely, pending any subsequent City Council action related to the General Plan Amendment and Rezone.

An appeal was filed on April 27, 2005 by the project applicant, Discovery Builders, Inc., On May 10, 2005, the City Council set May 24th as the public hearing date to consider the appeal. Due to noticing problems with the newspaper, the appeal had to be readvertised and the appeal date was continued to June 14, 2005. The attached appeal letter states the reasons that the appellant deems the Planning Commission was in error by denying the General Plan Amendment and Rezone.

PLANNING COMMISSION ACTION
At the April 19, 2005 Planning Commission hearing, the Commission voted 4-1 to deny the proposed General Plan amendment and Planned Development rezoning. After a lengthy discussion and consideration of the project, the majority of the Planning Commissioners could not support the proposed amendments to the General Plan and proposed rezoning for the following reasons: First, given the natural and scenic qualities of the site, the Commission could not support the proposed change to the prominent hill form that dominates SPA E as they believed it would have a detrimental visual impact to the community. Second, the Commission could not support the reduction in the mixed-use business park and regional commercial acreage in SPA E from 50 acres to 35 acres as it would not be consistent with the General Plan goal to provide an adequate balance of jobs to housing. Also, the Commission could not support the proposed reduction in open space and park use area from 40 to 30% of the SPA area.

The Planning Commission continued its action on the tentative map, design review, and development agreement applications pending an appeal of its action by the applicant to the City Council. Should the City Council approve the appeal, thereby approving the General Plan amendment and Rezoning applications, the Commission would hold a public hearing on June 21, 2005 on the tentative map, design review, and development agreement applications. At the applicant’s request, public notice for these applications has been initiated.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION
As listed above, the proposed General Plan changes include 1) reducing the minimum percentage of open space and park uses in SPA E from 40 to 30%, 2) reducing the amount of mixed business park and regional commercial land from 50 to 35 acres, 3) allowing flexibility to the requirement for preservation of the visual prominence of the hill form by adding “to the greatest extent possible”, and 4) deleting the reference to using open space instead of soundwalls as a separation/ buffer between the proposed residential units and the Hwy 4 Bypass.

The proposed PD amendment, or rezoning, includes the establishment of permitted and conditionally permitted uses, as well as site development standards. Currently, this PD is a “shell” PD and no development standards exist. Therefore, before any development of this site can be approved, these uses and standards must be created.

For a more detailed description of the proposed General Plan and PD amendments, please see the attached Planning Commission staff report of April 19, 2005.

ANALYSIS
Special features of SPA E include a prominent hillside in the southern portion, Sand Creek drainage channel in the northern portion, and several abandoned oil wells. The General Plan policy direction for the SPA indicates that it is intended to serve as a gateway into Brentwood from the west side of the City. As stated above, the General Plan also indicates that it is important to maintain visual open space and parks as dominant features of the SPA, including preservation of the dominant hill form’s visual prominence. Open space and parks are to comprise at least 40% of the SPA, with a minimum of 50 acres reserved for mixed-use business park and regional commercial development at the northwest corner of Sand Creek Road and the Bypass. The specific land use mix for the SPA is intended to be determined in conjunction with a coordinated planned development.

The key proposed modifications to SPA E, in order to reflect the design of the project, relate to the preservation of the dominant hill form, the percentage of open space and park uses, the acreage reserved for mixed-use business park and regional commercial development, and the protection of scenic hillsides. The dominant hill form, located in the vicinity of proposed Lots 149-151, peaks at an elevation of approximately 230 feet. The proposed grading plan shows pad elevations for these lots at 203 and 204 feet, or a reduction of approximately 26 ft. from the top of the ridgeline.

A total of 41 acres (Parcels A, B, and D-J) would be reserved by the project for open space and park uses, which means that open space and parks would comprise 30% of the SPA (41 acres / 135 acres = 30%).

A 35.28-acre parcel would be reserved by the project for future mixed-use business park and regional commercial development. This is approximately 15 acres less than what is currently required by the SPA. The reason for the reduction is that when SPA E was created, consideration was not given to additional acreage required for the Bypass on and off-ramps at Sand Creek Road. As shown on the project plans, a 17.3-acre area directly east of the non-residential portion of the project has been acquired by the Bypass Authority for ultimate improvements to the Bypass. This acreage was originally intended to be part of the mixed-use business park and regional commercial portion of the SPA.

As pointed out in the attached appeal letter from Discovery Builders, there would be a number of important public improvements that would be constructed as part of this project. These infrastructure improvements will serve the surrounding area in addition to this project and will improve traffic circulation and emergency response to this area. First, the extension of San Jose Avenue would be completed through the project site and a portion of Sand Creek Road would be constructed along the project frontage to provide better access to the Hwy 4 Bypass for the residents of the Brentwood Hills development to the south. Also, utilities and roadway access would be constructed to the 4-acre high density residential parcel east of the project site for possible development with affordable housing. The 36-acre commercial site on the north side of the residential development would be rough-graded, have utility stubbed in Sand Creek Rd., a traffic signal at San Jose Ave. and Sand Creek Rd., and the access road (Sand Creek Rd.) would be extended with full-width improvements along a portion of its frontage. (Please see the attached letter for additional information concerning the proposed appeal.)

Staff points out that there are clearly significant pros and cons to this project. The project site is a unique site in Brentwood and as such, was designated a Special Planning Area with specific land use and site planning criteria during the General Plan update process. While this proposal deviates from a number of these, the public infrastructure improvements this plan includes would be beneficial to the area, and through its inclusion in this year’s planned CIFP, the City as a whole. Thus, the project offers beneficial infrastructure improvements. The Council may wish to consider whether these improvements outweigh the visual and land use concerns discussed by the Planning Commission.

FISCAL IMPACT
The project, if developed, would generate additional jobs and property tax for the City. The project would also increase demand for the urban services the City provides, which would result in ongoing service delivery costs associated with the project.

RECOMMENDATION
Staff recommends that after taking public testimony at the hearing and consideration of the attached materials, including the proposed General Plan amendment and rezoning text, the City Council take one of the following actions:

1. Approve the appeal, thereby approving the proposed application for cases, GP 01-01 and RZ 05-04, subject to the proposed text.

2. Deny the appeal, thereby upholding the Planning Commission’s denial of cases, GP 01-01 and RZ 05-04.

In either case, staff will prepare the appropriate resolutions and/or ordinance to reflect the Council’s action for its consideration at a future CC meeting.

Attachments:
April 19th Planning Commission staff report and attachments
Planning Commission Resolution No. 05-26 and April 19th Planning Commission meeting minutes
Appeal letter
Vesting Tentative Subdivision Map No. 8506

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