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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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With development agreement finalized, council ready for Cannery vote

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From page A1 | November 10, 2013 |

Finally, the stage is set for the City Council to vote on The Cannery project.

After lengthy negotiations between The New Home Company and city management, on Friday the two sides finalized the development agreement, which spells out the commitments or “give backs” made by the developer to the community in exchange for a green-lit project.

With the development agreement in hand, the council can now consider The Cannery proposal as a whole.

The council will open the public hearing for the project application at its meeting Tuesday, but the city’s elected officials aren’t expected to take a vote until the Nov. 19 meeting.

Tuesday’s meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Chambers of City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. It will broadcast live on Comcast Channel 16 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99. Stream the meeting live on the city’s website at www.cityofdavis.org/media.

Under the terms of the development agreement, New Home first would gift about $3.7 million in “community enhancement funds” to the city for transportation and infrastructure improvements along Covell Boulevard, in addition to other locations near the project site.

The funds would come from an initial contribution by New Home of $615,000 and then an additional $6,717 for each market-priced ownership unit that’s sold.

The $3.7 million essentially is part of the developer’s commitment to the Covell Corridor improvement plan, which the city will tackle in the coming years to improve traffic flow and bicycle and pedestrian access and safety along Covell Boulevard.

New Home, however, actually would contribute a total of about $8.3 million to that plan, including more than $4 million in roadway impact fees it must pay to build the new neighborhood.

About 19,000 cars drive down Covell Boulevard every day, according to the draft EIR the city completed for The Cannery project. The new development is expected to add about 8,541 daily vehicle trips to that total, according to a revised traffic count conducted by the city’s traffic consultant, Fehr & Peers.

The transportation funds promised by New Home also could be used to fund construction of a second grade-separated crossing over or under Covell Boulevard to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to the project site, according to the city’s staff report.

Despite strong concerns from bicycle advocates in the community, the developer still will propose Tuesday a bicycle connection on the southwest corner of the property where, to exit the neighborhood, bicyclists must ride underneath the East Covell overpass that vaults over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, then head east and up a ramp that connects to the existing bike path on the south side of East Covell.

Though, it seems that the developer would be open to a different connection design, such as a route that would allow bicyclists to head south to the H Street tunnel, if the council preferred it.

“While The New Home Company believes our preferred approach has merit, we are prepared to move forward with either connection that City Council chooses,” said Bonnie Chiu, project manager for New Home, in an email.

In addition to the transportation funds, in the development agreement New Home also has pledged $2 million to fund improvements to Community Park and other amenities in town.

And, if the city reduces water connection fees for the houses on the site — which may occur when the city reassess its fee structure next year — New Home would send all savings generated by the reduced fees back to the city’s park impact fee fund, up to $1.6 million.

Further, the developer has agreed to commit $100,000 per year for three years to help kickstart the urban farm portion of The Cannery, as well as pay for construction of the infrastructure for the farm. New Home also has offered up $100,000 for community greenhouse gas reduction programs and $75,000 for civic arts programs.

“Staff has concluded that the development agreement could accommodate $4 million to $4.5 million in benefits to the city under current assumptions,” the staff report said.

New Home also appears to have stepped up the sustainable home design features of the development by agreeing to build 25 percent of the first 100 single-family detached homes as net-zero electricity.

Previously, the developer promised to spread 25 kW of solar power throughout the first 100 homes built, far less than the new proposal. All 367 single-family detached and attached homes will feature at least 1.5 kW of solar.

“We feel the new commitment to provide zero-net electric homes as part of the first Cannery homes will encourage more buyers to purchase zero-net packages as the neighborhood builds out,” Chiu said.

New Home also has committed to selling 30 parcels in the development to small builders and owner-builders.

The Cannery project is proposed as a 547-unit “multigenerational” neighborhood featuring low-, medium- and high-density housing. The project, planned for a 100-acre parcel of land north of East Covell Boulevard and east of F Street, also would include 15-acres of commercial/retail, business park or office space; bike paths, greenbelts, parks; and an urban farm.

While the City Council will open the public hearing for the proposal and take public comment Tuesday, saff, which is recommending overall approval of the application, suggests the council not make its final decision on the project until Nov. 19.

For the project to move forward, the council will have to approve the final environmental impact report, the affordable housing plan, the development agreement and a change in zoning to allow residential uses on the now-solely industrially zoned land.

If the council approves the project, ConAgra reps have said home construction wouldn’t begin for at least a year. Future residents of The Cannery likely wouldn’t begin moving in for at least a year and a half.

New Home, the developer and homebuilder for The Cannery, essentially has taken the reins of the project from ConAgra Foods Inc., the landowner and the company who first submitted the application for the project.

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

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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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