BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
A five-home hillside development proposed for Devonshire Canyon in San Carlos, which has been in dispute since the early 2000s, is finally moving forward.
Redwood City developer Ron Grove first brought plans to build homes, nestled between Winding Way and Chesham Avenue, to the city in 2003, but a group of neighbors, unhappy with the potential development, filed a lawsuit against the plans in 2004.
The group, made up primarily of residents from Chesham Avenue, sued over environmental concerns for the dusky-footed wood rat and the bush mallow plant. The lawsuit was dropped after a settlement was reached between the city, the residents and Grove. The settlement required Grove to complete a full environmental impact report.
However, parts of the settlement included things not related to the rat and plant, such as a gate being installed in order to deter cut-through traffic. The only people able to get through the gate would be emergency personnel.
The project resurfaced in 2009, when the city council approved annexing the land.
Five years after the settlement, neighbors still opposed the annexation, saying that the land ought to stay undeveloped. Regardless, the council voted 4-1 in favor of the annexation, with then-vice mayor Randy Royce dissenting.
On Monday, the Planning Commission reviewed the project and voted 4-0 to move the project forward to city council for an approval.
Grove will also have to come back before the commission at least two more times — one for the commission to rule on a plan for hauling dirt from the site and again to approve the building plans.
The commission was supposed to rule on the dirt hauling route Monday, but that issue was continued because of the concerns from residents on Winding Way and Chesham Avenue about how the large trucks will endanger residents along the 18-foot-wide road.
Cooperation instead of litigation
However, instead of threats of new lawsuits, neighbors on Monday went one by one to the microphone to ask Grove questions, and he responded, making some concessions (there will be no weekend construction, for instance, and that anything larger than a pick-up truck will not be entering the construction site until 10 a.m.).
“Let’s not end with another lawsuit, but an agreement from the neighbors,” said Winding Way resident Nick Kalayjian.
But issues from 14 years ago still loomed over the meeting, with representatives of the group that sued Grove present. And prior to the meeting, neighbor Ron Staricha asked the city in an email whether there is an opportunity to stop the project.
At Monday’s meeting, neighbors were worried about a new gate that will be installed at the edge of the development and whether it will cause emergency access issues.
The gate was agreed to in the 2004 settlement as a way to deter cut-through traffic in the neighborhood. However, some residents of Winding Way, such as Lily Chang, asked if there was a way to make the gate accessible to residents of the street, and not just emergency personnel.
The project will consist of five homes built on 20,000-square-foot lots.