Photo courtesy of Metro Creative 

A Concord-based homebuilder has appealed the Brentwood Planning Commission’s design review approval of a proposed 288-unit apartment complex project on Amber Lane.

Appellant Discovery Builders, Inc., says the project — proposed by private commercial real estate development firm Tekin & Associates, LLC on a 14.4-acre, three-parcel space on the south side of Amber Lane and west of Shady Willow Lane — needs further review and doesn’t comply with city code, according to the late December appeal.

Neither Discovery Builders, Inc. President Louis Parsons, nor his attorneys, returned comment.

“The project cannot be approved because the lack of project-specific environmental review and deferral of mitigation measures render the city’s environmental determination inadequate, and the required design review findings cannot be made and the processing of the project’s design review application does not conform with the city’s code requirements,” wrote Robia Crisp, senior counsel with Hanson Bridgett law firm, representing Parsons.

The Brentwood Planning Commission approved the design 3-1 in late December, with Commissioner Cyndi Hankins in opposition.

Brentwood Planning Manager Erik Nolthenius declined to formally state city staff’s position on the appeal, with a city-created report on the matter not yet released, but said the matter could be heard by the city council as soon as its Jan. 28 meeting.

The project can proceed if the council denies the appeal when the matter is heard, since it fits the specified criteria for the area.

Lance Crannell, principal architect of SDG Architects, said the appeal confused the project team. “We appreciate their input and are happy to work with the city as a result of those comments,” he said. “We are just curious about the motivation behind it.”

Parsons’ appeal came roughly three days after the commission approved the project’s design and about two weeks after attorney Kristina Lawson filed a separate letter with the commission on behalf of  Discovery Builders, Inc., indicating further project review was needed to ensure compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan, and to address proposed impacts on the fire district.

Upon receipt of that letter in early December, the commission postponed its design review decision two weeks to evaluate concerns, but ended up approving the design.

The project is expected to feature nine two- and three-story apartment buildings (288 units), a 5,564-square-foot recreation building and related amenities: a pool and spa, community center, parking, trash enclosures and landscaping; and is the first to be approved in the city’s Priority Area One, an over 430-acre stretch envisioned as a future job-generating hub and location for mixed-use development.

Brentwood Associate Planner Christopher Rogers previously said the city completed a CEQA-required environmental impact report covering the project area, and East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan requirements will be met. A fire district representative confirmed that project officials agreed to pay development impact fees and enter into a Community Facilities District agreement to offset effects on the overstretched fire district.

Parsons believes more project analysis is needed.

“For projects that are consistent with a specific plan for which an environmental impact report has been certified, a determination as to whether there are project-specific significant effects which are peculiar to the project or its site must be made based on an initial study or other analysis,” a letter in the appeal states.

Other concerns include claims the city hasn’t evaluated the project to ensure it would not result in significant groundwater recharge interference; additional geologic analysis is needed prior to development; and proof of pre-construction surveys to avoid or minimize the impacts on special-status species was not included in the record.

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