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Pine Meadow Remains Protected for Another Year

Apr 01, 2016 01:15PM ● By Jennifer Neys

At the March 9 city council meeting, the Martinez City Council introduced an ordinance to rescind approvals from over a year ago for the DeNova Homes 99- home development at 451 Vine Hill Way (Pine Meadow Golf Course), repealing all of the entitlements (general plan amendment for the development, rezoning and planned unit development approval, and vested tentative map) granted to this project, returning the 26-acre property to open space/recreation general plan and open space zoning.

The council’s action now eliminates the November ballot referendum submitted by the Friends of Pine Meadow, the group that wanted to bring the development issue before voters. The November vote would only take away the 99-units application that was approved by the councilmembers a year ago. If the action was put to the votes, it could cost over $23,000. “This is a colossal waste of money. We can get it done without all of that cost,” said Mayor Schroder. In fact, the ballot referendum would not restrict further applications, including a new development application from DeNova Homes, “provided that the new application is not substantially similar to the one that was subject to referendum,” said Senior Assistant City Attorney Veronica Nebb. There is also a one-year moratorium on a substantially similar land use designation.

On December 10 last year, the city clerk received a letter from Civic Martinez, LLC, the owner of the property and DeNova Home, Inc., requesting that the city repeal the entitlements for the Pine Meadow project. The owner and developer stated they no longer intend to proceed with development of the project as originally proposed and are working on revised plans to be submitted sometime in the future.

It was suggested at the meeting that a funding mechanism be put in place for the city to try and purchase all or part of the property as parkland. However, ques- tions remain about funding sources. “If we want to spend our time wisely, let’s do an initiative to find out if the majority of the town wants to pay additional taxes to have a funding source to negotiate with private property owners,” explained DeNova Homes CFO Dave Sanson.

Mayor Schroder brought up that the citizens’ vote for Measure H was designed to use $30 million to improve existing parks in the city with Waterfront Park as the last major overhaul, rather than spend additional funds on new parkland. Mayor Schroder said, “Nothing is going to be free, including Alhambra Highlands, and I have proposed to this council that they consider a possible half cent sales tax that will be dedicated toward infrastructure repair such as roads, sidewalks and so on.”

Councilmember Lara DeLaney spoke in favor of a compromise on Pine Meadow, “We want permanent community benefit. Hopefully we can get a portion of permanent open space or some kind of a permanent community benefit there that’s what we want, so let’s get to that.”

The city council voted 3-2 to rescind the ballot referendum and 5-5 to rescind all related resolutions. (The ordinance was adopted at the March 16 city council meeting.)


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