The Rancho Vista housing development received a thorough airing in a report to the San Juan Bautista City Council Tuesday night by interim City Manager J. Edward Tewes and the developer.
Council members also unanimously approved a number of actions related to the 85-home development.
A significant announcement on the development came from Jess Salmon, director of forward planning for builder Meritage Homes. Phase 7 of the development will include five instead of six lots. But houses on the lots will all be two stories.
Residents in the neighboring Creekside development have expressed concerns about the number of homes in phase 7 as well as concerns about drainage, traffic, views and ways to separate the two developments.
Rancho Vista, situated on 28 acres on First Street along San Juan Highway, has been a thorn in the side of City Hall. Former San Juan Bautista City Manager Roger Grimsley resigned after grading in phase 7 was allowed without permits.
Since Aug. 29, Meritage has been working with city staff to address concerns of residents. Besides going back to the original five lots proposed, the company, according to Salmon, will make the following adjustments:
Open space directly behind the phase 7 lots will remain the same size as was previously approved. Picnic tables and public access to the space have been removed to maintain privacy for Creekside residents.
Landscaping for the open space has been updated to include a row of 24-inch box cedar trees to provide a privacy screen for Creekside residents.
The elevation difference between Creekside lots and the new Rancho Vista lots will be 10 feet plus. Salmon said this is consistant with the heights that existed in the initial grading plans based on approved tentative map lot configurations.
The drainage for open space will maintain the natural flow to the existing channel. The addition of the five lots will be taken into account with updated grading and drainage.
Residents expressed concerns about all of the five homes in phase 7 being two- story structures.
Salmon said the two-story homes were necessary to fit the lots. Two-story homes, he explained, have a smaller footprint, allowing more living space on the second story. He said the homes will be built closer to the street to allow more space between them and Creekside homes will be separated by the box cedar trees.
Salmon said there was no stipulation from the city that it had to put single-story homes in phase 7.
Regarding drainage concerns, Salmon said the Meritage development has worked to mitigate drainage issues. But some residents at the meeting appeared unconvinced it would be enough to avoid flooding issues.
The council approved an amendment to a development agreement with Meritage. The company will contribute $100,000 to address the city’s water supply issues. That is to the company’s benefit, Tewes said, because it can’t connect to city water until water issues have been solved and approved by the state water board.
In a related move, the council authorized the purchase of an iron/manganese water treatment plant for the city’s water at a cost of $51,750.
San Juan Bautista’s water is undrinkable because of high concentrations of nitrates. The city has OK’d a plan to solve the issue, including adding new wells.
The appointment of David Taussig and Associates as assessment engineer for Rancho Vista’s landscape and lighting district was approved. The council also OK’d and agreement with Mertiage Homes to deposit $15,000 to pay for Taussig’s services. That money will be reimbursed by homeowners in the district.
Councilmembers approved a resolution to join the Joint Powers Authority Establishing the Statewide Community Infrastructure Program, or SCIP. It allows developers through bonds to pay upfront for development fees. The city gets those fees sooner through SCIP.
Lastly, the city OK’d a reimbursement agreement with Meritage to install an 18-inch sewer main through Rancho Vista. The line is not needed now but may be if the city’s wastewater treatment plant is relocated. In exchange Meritage will not have up pay for up to $400,000 in sewage connection fees.
In other City Council action:
Presentation given of the fiscal year 2017 audit by Ryan Jolley, CPA. Jolley said the city’s finances are in good shape.
Authorized the strategic plan committee for a parks master plan task force to proceed with its efforts.
Received a fourth quarter report from the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office on its law enforcement activity in the city. There were 42 incident reports during the quarter, ranging from traffic violations and drugs to vehicle theft and domestic quarrels.
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