Housing / Land Use

Hollister planners delay two development parcels

Questions arise over fair share improvements added to agreements.
The area between North Chappell Road and Highway 25 where the city has a plan for eventual buildout known as the Everglen Major Subdivision. Photo by Noe Magaña.

On Feb. 24 Hollister planning commissioners moved to delay approval of two adjacent development sites totaling 166 single-family units and 16 duets. The delays were imposed pending discussion with developers about paying additional “fair share” fees related to updating San Felipe Road and utilities.

“The issue at hand tonight is there is some disagreement or misunderstanding about the responsibility to construct certain improvements associated with subdivisions, mainly roadway improvements, versus just paying the fair share towards their construction,” said Tad Stearn, a practice builder with planning consultant Kimley-Horn & Associates. Stearn recommended that commissioners delay the approval. 

The first development is a 13.79-acre project which would include 92 new single-family residential lots, a public park and a stormwater treatment area. The applicant is PAD Investments Trust, et al. 

The second development under review is 18.24 acres that would be subdivided into 91 total lots. It was delayed specifically because the development plan may need updates. The project, proposed by DAL Properties, LLC, plans for 74 single-family units, 16 duets and a park. 

According to the Hollister zoning map, both projects, located between North Chappell Road and Highway 25, are zoned Residential Performance Overlay Zone District (R1 L/PZ). That zoning allows up to 8 units per net acre, according to the Hollister Municipal Code

The projects are awaiting the results of studies conducted by Rick Engineering and Wallace Group Engineering, which will determine fair share fees to be used by the city to upgrade San Felipe Road as well as water, wastewater, and sewage systems. The upgrades are part of the Chappell Road Master Plan, which aims to coordinate updates to systems rather than add them in a piecemeal fashion, Stearn said.

Stearn said the information from the Rick Engineering report regarding roadway improvement costs was ready, but the information from the Wallace Group study was pending. Stearn said the determination on fair share did not mean the developers had to make those improvements, but had to pay a contribution toward those improvements. 

Assistant planner Eva Kelly said the results of the Wallace Group study on water capacity could be six weeks away.

With the Wallace Group information still in the works, Stearn said the city currently did not know what the fair share obligation of any particular property would be.

“Here we are in the seventh year trying to get these lots finally approved,” Victor Gomez, a land use consultant with Pinnacle Strategy, said of the delays.

Gomez said developers would need language to specify their obligation toward fair share was monetary, as the current language could be interpreted to mean their responsibility included building the infrastructure.

“We have no authority to take someone else’s property,” Gomez said of the developer not having the legal right to implement the infrastructure changes. “But government does have the ability to do that, so these improvements cannot be led by a developer.”

Gomez added, “We’re happy to pay and contribute for the city to lead that effort, but conditions of approval need to be modified and adjusted to reflect that we are paying a fair share contribution, not that we are building those improvements.”

Gomez said both project developers looked forward to working with the city to fix the necessary details.

Regarding the DAL project, “both planning and engineering staff continue to be concerned with some specific design issues related to the location of a PG&E gas main and also the location of some lots relative to Hwy 25 and some concerns over future noise levels,” Stearn said. “Resolving some of those issues could result in further design changes to the subdivision that may need additional review by the planning commission.”

San Jose-based DAL Properties, LLC is registered as dissolved. It filed to be dissolved on Dec. 28, 2021, According to state documents. Charles Davidson is registered as the manager of the real estate business. 

Gomez noted the developers had not yet received information from the completed Rick Engineering study on the fair share contribution for road improvements.

Commissioner Roxanne Stephens directed staff to provide that information to developers within one week.

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Sean Roney

Sean is a writer and photographer from California’s Central Coast. He began reporting for BenitoLink in 2015. Sean received his BA in communication from CSU Monterey Bay and he has covered news stories in San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Clara counties. He enjoys traveling California to meet interesting people as well as visit breathtaking places, and is always happy to sit down and share stories. In his free time, Sean enjoys cycling, bikepacking, and novel writing.