This article was originally published on March 18, 2014 by the Contra Costa Times.
By Eve Mitchell
PITTSBURG — City officials have determined a Seeno proposal to eventually build housing on more than 600 hillside acres outside city limits must go through an environmental review process.
At this time, only the Faria/Southwest Hills project is seeking to be annexed into the city of Pittsburg, which is why a specific development plan with the number of homes that would be built by Concord-based Discovery Builders is not included.
Because there is no development plan, the draft environmental impact report will look at the “worst-case scenario” of building 1,500 single-family homes on the 607-acre parcel, which is now used for cattle grazing. The land is south of the Seeno’s San Marco subdivision along state Highway 4.
This is the second time Discovery Builders has made an annexation bid. The first bid was pulled three years ago after comments — including a letter from the environmental groups Greenbelt Alliance and Save Mount Diablo — urged city officials to require an environmental impact report. The comments resulted in city staff requiring an environmental impact report if the developer wanted to pursue an annexation bid without including a development plan.
Neither Louis Parsons, vice president of development at Discovery Builders, nor Seth Adams, land program director at Save Mount Diablo, could be reached for comment.
The request for Faria/Southwest Hills to be annexed into Pittsburg is made possible by voters narrowly approving Measure P in 2005. The Seeno-backed measure extended the city’s urban limit line and opened up 2,200 acres in the southwest hills for development and future annexation into Pittsburg.
An initial study has been prepared on Faria/Southwest Hills annexation proposal.
The study is viewed as a document to help focus the environmental report. Additional analysis will be needed once there is a specific development plan.
“While the proposed annexation does not include any physical development or plans for development at this time, future development plans would alter the visual quality of the site, therefore creating a potentially significant impact on existing scenic vistas and the visual character of the site,” the report said.
In addition, future development in the area could create potentially significant impacts, including increased demand for fire protection and police services. The area part of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, and would continue to be served by that district if annexation occurs.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.
A scoping meeting takes place April 3 at 6 p.m. at Pittsburg City Hall, 65 Civic Ave. to hear comments from residents and local agencies on what specific issues should be addressed in the draft environmental impact report. Written comments are also being accepted through 5 p.m. April 8. Written comments should be sent to Kristin Pollot, Project Planner, 65 Civic Ave., Pittsburg, CA 94565, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 925-252-4814. For more information, call 925-252-6941.