The City Council closed out years of debate over building houses on Lund Ranch in the southeast hills of Pleasanton Tuesday night, approving the latest developer's plan for 43 upscale homes on the 194-acre site.
As part of the agreement, Greenbriar Homes Community will donate 177 acres of its property to the city as open space, which will be kept free of any future development in perpetuity with hiking trails to be added.
Although the council's 3-1 vote to approve the plan came at the end of the sixth public hearing on the Greenbriar proposal, the two-hour-long final public hearing was again contentious both for council members and a council chamber half-filled with interest groups both in favor and opposed to the Lund Ranch development.
Mayor Jerry Thorne and council members Kathy Narum and Arne Olson voted in favor of Greenbriar's bid. Councilwoman Karla Brown again voted against it. Councilman Jerry Pentin again recused himself from the discussion and voting because he lives close to one of the proposed access routes to the project.
Brown said a roadway planned as an extension of Sunset Creek way to homes in the Greenbriar development the plan would be built on hillside slopes greater than 25% in violation of Measure PP, a voter-approved measure that now rules against hillside construction.
She said Measure PP rules that nothing is allowed with 100 feet of a ridge, no scarring, no severe grading, which the roadway extension will require.
"This is not protecting the ridgelines and there's no way as a PP supporter that I can support this plan," she said in voting against the plan approval ordinance.
But the three others on the council disagreed.
"Most everything that can be said about this project has been said since 2002," said Thorne. We're coming down from over 100 houses once planned to less than 50 because of PP. It worked."
Olson, who once said that roadways should be considered as structure and not allowed on hillside with 25% or greater slopes, said he changed his mind after seeing the need to build this road extension to reach Lund Ranch.
"I had to change my opinion on this project in order to get to this point after seeing how Measure PP impacted this (Greenbriar) plan, so I did," he added.
"I also think that PP worked," added Narum. "I think we honored it and residents should be proud of that."
"The city is receiving 177 acres of open space from this developer," Narum continued. "It's pristine open space, at the top of the ridge. It's gorgeous, beautiful land that all of us are going to want to hike on."
Most of the 10 speakers at the council meeting voiced opposition to the Greenbriar plan.
Planning Commissioner Greg O'Connor, speaking as a homeowner in Bridle Creek, a neighborhood served by Sycamore Creek Way that much of the new Lund Ranch traffic will use to reach Sunol Boulevard, urged the council to postpone again a final vote on the project.
He said the access road off Sunset Creek Way will be built on a slope of 25% or greater and will require retaining walls within 100 feet of a ridge, in violation of Measure PP rules.
Alan Roberts, who lives in the gated Gray Eagle community at the end of Crellin Road, also opposed the project.
"The only reason you made a decision that that is not ridgeland is because of the inconvienence (this would cause) the developer of this property," he said. "I think that is wrong and I urge you to reconsider what you are doing."
But another speaker called the final plan that was approved by the council "a very fair compromise."
"I would like to thank all of you for the time you put into this," he said. "I know it's well beyond what you normally deal with in considering housing developments. Now let's move on."
Another speaker, a homeowner in the Sycamore Creek Way community, vowed to seek a referendum to overturn the council's decision.
"Tonight, we'll be starting the signature process immediately," he said. "For the next 30 days you'll be seeing us in every neighborhood, every workplace, everywhere you shop and play. We're well-funded and we'll easily obtain the required signatures to place this on the ballot."
"This project blatantly disrespects the use of Pleasanton's ridges and hillsides," he added. "The City Council and city staff made an arbitrary decision as to the location of ridgelines."
The Greenbriar plan approved Tuesday calls for 12 of the new homes to use Lund Ranch Road, Independence Drive and Junipero Street to reach Sunol Boulevard which, with Middleton Place traffic will total motorists from 27 homes using these thoroughfares, and motorist from the other 31 new Lund Ranch homes using Sunset Creek Way and Sycamore Creek Way to Sunol Boulevard.