It’s showtime for The Cannery.
In the first of five public meetings that will culminate in a decision by the City Council on whether to approve a 547-unit residential development in North Davis, the city’s Planning Commission hosted a workshop Wednesday to begin digging into the final proposal and to ask questions about the project.
Planned to fill up a 100-acre plot of undeveloped land north of East Covell Boulevard and east of F Street, The Cannery is proposed as a high-, medium- and low-density housing project with 15 acres of commercial and business park space, parks, greenbelts, bikeways and an urban farm, among other features.
Representatives of ConAgra presented the history of the site, the evolution of the project design and the full project proposal to the commission Wednesday to kick off the proceedings.
The issues that received the most attention from commission members and the public following the presentation were that of senior housing and bicycle connectivity.
Several members of the community group Choices for Healthy Aging, a longtime advocate for adding more senior housing in Davis, spoke during public comment to reiterate their desires for more single-story detached homes in the project.
Mary Jo Bryan, spokeswoman for the organization, says that’s the only housing type seniors care to live in.
“There are so many of us in Davis that want (to downsize),” Bryan said. “We have had this question over and over again: One story, a variety of sizes and designs, in a neighborhood setting. That’s what we want and that’s what we’re here for.”
The project calls for 19 homes that would fit into that single-story detached housing type that members of CHA say seniors prefer. However, ConAgra has maintained that the universal design that’s incorporated into every home in the development, in addition to the 96 units of stacked flats of single-story living that are proposed, would meet the senior housing needs.
Meanwhile, the majority of the commissioners — in addition to many public commenters — spoke about bicycle and pedestrian connectivity from the neighborhood to the surrounding community.
The biggest concern appears to center on access from the southwest corner of the development to surrounding neighborhoods.
As proposed by ConAgra, in order for bicyclists and pedestrians to head west from the development, they must cross under East Covell Boulevard, connect up with the existing bicycle pathway on the south side of East Covell, track back east along Covell and then hike back up the overpass toward F Street.
Recently, the North Davis Land Company, which proposed Covell Village in 2005, put forth a bicycle infrastructure plan its representatives believe would address many of the connectivity issues facing The Cannery.
But ConAgra representatives have said they aren’t interested in pursuing those remedies. It appears city staff isn’t interested either.
“Staff supports the goal of additional connectivity between The Cannery and locations to the west, south and east, (but) staff does not believe that this is the time to advance such proposals,” the city report to the commission said of the land company’s proposal.
That stance appeared to puzzle at least a few of the commissioners, however.
“I guess my question is, then, when is the time?” said Commissioner Marilee Hanson. “If this project gets approved without those connectivity issues being resolved, isn’t it going to be too late to require impact fees or anything else to contribute to all this infrastructure?”
The Planning Commission did not have a chance to ask questions about the development agreement, which essentially will include all of the commitments ConAgra will make to the city if the project moves forward.
Mike Webb, the city’s community development and sustainability director, hopes the city and the applicant will have that document finalized by early next week.
The commission will host another public hearing on the project Wednesday, Sept. 25, when it will make its recommendation to the City Council on whether to approve the development proposal.
As the schedule stands now, the council will take three meetings — two in October and one in November — to review The Cannery project and make a decision on the final design.
— Reach Tom Sakash at email@example.com or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash