Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Council gears up for final push on Cannery design review process

From page A1 | October 25, 2013 |

The City Council dove into the details of The Cannery project for the first time Tuesday, and after a lengthy presentation by ConAgra Foods Inc. — the food industry giant proposing the development — only two meetings remain until the council will make a decision on whether to approve the addition of a new neighborhood in Davis.

On the council’s long-range calendar, the city’s leaders are scheduled to open the public hearing and begin their cross-examination of the project on Nov. 12 where they will pose questions and concerns to staff and to the project applicant.

But as members of the public are expected to speak at length in their final opportunity to voice support for or concerns about the project, the council’s deliberations on The Cannery likely will spill into its following meeting Nov. 19.

However, it is possible that the council could make a decision Nov. 12.

For the project to move forward, the council will have to rezone the land from industrial to residential use, approve the final environmental impact report and also sign off on the development agreement that will include the commitments to the city made by  ConAgra in exchange for receiving approval of the proposal, among other legal documents.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton said earlier this week that the development agreement still has not been finalized between the developer and city staff.

Before those approvals, however, it’s likely several issues with the project still need to be addressed. Based on their brief comments Tuesday, council members, echoing the sentiments of the community, have serious concerns about the bicycle and pedestrian connectivity from the project site to the surrounding community.

The proposed connections, especially at the southwest corner of the property, have been described by the bicycling community as unacceptable in terms of their ability to encourage folks to bike out of the neighborhood rather than drive.

Along with connectivity, the council also appears interested in discussing the Covell Corridor project, a city plan that’s supposed to improve the busy Davis thoroughfare for all modes of transportation, as it may have implications for the connectivity issues.

Meanwhile, another relatively new issue with the project has surfaced about the possibility of removing hundreds of native oak trees on the site. Council members expressed interest Tuesday in figuring out a way to save as many of the trees as possible.

Slated for a 100-acre piece of land in North Davis — north of East Covell Boulevard and east of F Street — The Cannery would feature 547-units of low-, medium- and high-density housing; roughly 15 acres of business park, retail and office space; parks; greenbelts and an urban farm, among other amenities. The property is essentially the last large chunk of undeveloped land within city limits.

If the project is approved, home construction would not begin for at least a year, according to ConAgra representatives, and new residents likely wouldn’t begin moving in for more than a year and a half from the time of design approval. Sewers, drainage and other infrastructure all must be installed before home construction starts.

— Reach Tom Sakash at tsakash@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash



Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at tsakash@davisenterprise.net, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
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