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The Brentwood Planning Commission has approved the design of a proposed 288-unit apartment complex on Amber Lane — a project that was previously held up by an attorney’s letter stipulating that the proposal needed further review.

The four-person commission approved the design of the proposed complex — slated for a 14.4-acre, three-parcel vacant space on the south side of Amber Lane and west of Shady Willow Lane. 

The vote was 3-1 with Planning Commissioner Cyndi Hankins in opposition over the project’s proposed roofing products.    

The final decision had been postponed two weeks after attorney Kristina Lawson submitted a letter on behalf of Discovery Builders Inc., indicating that further project review was needed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan, and to address proposed impacts on the local fire district.

Brentwood Associate Planner Christopher Rogers indicated the city previously completed a CEQA-required environmental impact report (EIR) covering the project area and that East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan requirements will be met, which include ensuring that appropriate avoidance or minimization measures are implemented if any specialized habitats or species are found during preconstruction surveys.

Steve Aubert, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District fire marshal, confirmed this week that project officials have also agreed to pay development impact fees and enter into a Community Facilities District agreement, both of which are intended to offset the proposed project’s impacts on the already overstretched fire district.

“The environmental effects of the development of the proposed project site are analyzed in the EIR, and there is no new information or substantial changes that require additional environmental review,” Rogers said.

Lawson, who submitted the letter, did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

The commission’s decision is final unless an appeal is filed.

The project — expected to feature nine two- and three-story apartment buildings (288 total units), a 5,564-square-foot recreation building and related amenities, including a pool and spa, community center, parking, trash enclosures and landscaping — is the first to be approved in the city’s Priority Area One (PA1), an over 430-acre stretch envisioned as the city’s future job-generating hub and a perfect location for mixed-use development.

The area is surrounded by Lone Tree Way to the north, Heidorn Ranch Road to the west, Sand Creek Road to the south and Shady Willow Lane to the east.

City officials have predicted that the area could one day generate about 8,400 jobs and include 4 million square feet of nonresidential uses, 2,100 housing units and a residential population of 4,500.

“I appreciate that PA1 and this area are designed for high-density (uses) and this meets those needs,” said Planning Commissioner Seana Fippin about the complex. “We have college-educated youth who want to come back to the area and need a place to live. This will fulfill some of those needs. If we want to grow jobs here, we can’t really do that without adequate homes here for the young.”

Lance Crannell, principal of SDG Architects who assisted the applicant Tekin & Associates, LLC, said he’s “excited to bring this project to fruition.”

Some residents have expressed concern that the added population could overwhelm nearby Pioneer Elementary School — located east of the project site — with additional students; increase school traffic-related issues; and exacerbate an area already prone to auto accidents.

But city officials and the commission noted that those proposed impacts were already studied and mitigation measures have been planned.

“All of those items have already been evaluated and discussed within the PA1 EIR,” Rogers said.

A handful of future area roadway amendments include the extension of Amber Lane to allow for entrance and exiting of the future complex, Crannell said. Some changes to Shady Willow Lane intersections are expected in the future, according to city documents.

No timetable was publicly disclosed regarding when construction may begin.

For more information on the project, visit https://bit.ly/2tH8Mvg.

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