by Barry Eberling
Rockville Trails Estates passed its first hurdle before the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The board certified an environmental impact report for the proposed residential development in the hills near Suisun and Green valleys. That paves the way for a vote on the project itself next week.
Supervisors John Vasquez, John Silva and Mike Reagan voted in favor of certification. Supervisors Barbara Kondylis and Jim Spering dissented. About 90 people attended the three-hour-long public hearing, most of them project opponents.
Rockville Trails Estates would bring 370 homes to 1,580 acres near Rockville Hills Park. It would be the first major residential development in the rural county in several decades. It would include a fire station, a park, 810 acres of open space and more than six miles of trails open to the public.
‘This is a custom-home project and will be very high-end,” Richard Loewke said on behalf of the developers.
But Rockville Trails Estates is opposed by the Green Valley Landowners Association, which represents many of the residents from the area. Opponents say it is too suburban a project for the rural county, would generate too much traffic and could cause rural wells in the area to go dry, among other things.
Nancy Nelson of Green Valley disagreed with the environmental impact report traffic flow assumptions. She and others said additional traffic on Green Valley Road would be greater than the environmental report describes.
‘Those of us who live there, we’re not traffic experts, but we know how the traffic flows,” Nelson told the board.
Trish Rees and her family use a well. She was among several speakers disputing the developer’s assurances that the project won’t lower the water table and cause neighboring wells to go dry. She called Rockville Trails Estates ‘a thirsty beast.’
“Water is a big deal and the lack of water is a bigger deal,” Rees said.
Nicole Byrd of the Greenbelt Alliance suggested that the board delay the project. The county could try to get the developer and opponents in the same room to work out a compromise, she said. The lull in the housing markets makes this a good time to try such a move, she said.
Silva talked of the project’s advantages. Among them is bringing a Cordelia Fire District station to the property to serve not only Rockville Trails Estates, but the surrounding area, he said.
Kondylis noted that the law firm Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger is representing the Green Valley Landowners Association. The San Francisco-based firm sent a letter disputing many parts of the environmental impact report.
“I don’t believe they have ever lost a lawsuit,’ Kondylis said. ‘The comments they made, I agree with every single one of them.”
This article was originally published by the The Daily Republic.