The City of Colusa Planning Commission voted 4-0-1 last week to recommend the city council approve amendments to the tentative map and development agreement (DA) for a housing subdivision on the southeast corner of town.
The developer, Colusa Industrial Properties, is in the process of assigning a homebuilder to construct a 180-lot residential subdivision, who was seeking “to solidify and expand the DA terms and provisions unique to their proposed build-out of the subdivision and in support of construction of the Project over the next several years.”
Among the major topics of discussion at last Tuesday’s meeting was the elimination of a 100-foot Agricultural Buffer for the homes. The project abuts unincorporated lands of Colusa County to the west and to the south. Planning Commissioner George Parker asked whether the county had been consulted regarding the elimination of that buffer. City Planner Bryan Stice said that the city and county had met, and the county had expressed concerns about it.
“To be clear, the buffer was not a mitigation measure, per se,” Stice said. “It was part of the original project description that accompanied the applicant’s original environmental documentation, and so that’s what the county is wanting to hold on to… I don’t know what will come of that.”
A significant change to the tentative map for the project was the placement of the main access road (Sunrise Avenue) to the new development, which Stice said arose from public comments from Country Club residents. Rather than having Sunrise Avenue go directly behind the existing houses on Country Club, the road was moved to the south, and a row of homes will go in and abut the existing houses on Country Club.
“One of the ways that we’re able to justify (the elimination of the agricultural buffer) is, we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, in a good way,” Stice said. “We already have a development to the north, that is already immediately adjacent to ag land. As a result of this map, we are basically creating no new net increase in ag-urban interfacing. We’re eliminating one on paper here, but we are going to provide a very real one to the north, with the remapping on shifting of that roadway to the south.”
Ed Hulbert, CEO of Colusa Industrial Properties, indicated that each homeowner in the new development would have to sign a navigation easement – because of the project’s proximity to the airport – as was stipulated in the Environmental Impact Review for the project, as well as a “right to farm” agreement, before they could buy a home within the subdivision, which would take care of the issue on the southern border. He added that the project was moving forward with the assumption that the adjacent property to the west would ultimately be annexed into the city as a residential development, which would address the agricultural buffer on the western border.
Stice added that the project was phased in such a way that if the buffer is an issue with the county throughout the process, the buffer could remain in place as a fall-back measure.