The Vacaville Planning Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend that city council amend the current North Village plan to make concessions for new development in the Zone 2 plan.
Specifically, a dog park, new open spaces between the business parks and a new primary school.
The current plan for North Village, located west of Leisure Town Road in northeast Vacaville, was approved in 1995. It divides the development into two parts, north and south, and covers 882 acres with 2,499 homes and a significant portion dedicated to business parks and community facilities.
The proposed updates would require significant zoning changes, including a 12.5-acre reserve in the Zone 2 plan to make room for an elementary school and the removal of a private swim club to be replaced by a public dog park. The zoning would also be updated to incorporate more medium and low density residential units and the development agreement should be extended until 2045 to allow time for construction.
Senior planner Albert Enault said these new residential units would provide a type of housing that North Village lacked – in the form of the planned 171 duo complexes. Other benefits cited include better land use planning, more public parks, and an elementary school with Vacaville Unified School District zoning agreements.
According to Dan Banowetz, director of facilities, maintenance and operations of VUSD, the elementary school will cost about $40-50 million, which is more than what the district receives from development fees, so the district will have to bear the cost himself.
Candidate Doug Chen of Discovery Builders presented a brief recap of the proposed developments with maps indicating where specific things would be built, such as a separate dog park with areas for large and small dogs and the construction of an open space near the business park to preserve wetlands, as requested by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Commissioner Amanda Rudeen asked Chen about the possibility of a walking path in this new open space. Chen said the development team may consider building trails around the area, but not directly over it.
“For the most part, you won’t be able to walk through open space,” Chen said. “However, we can put a pathway around the open space.”
The current development agreement expires in 2025, meaning construction and zoning are expected to be finalized within the next three years. The proposed amendments would add another 20 years to the agreement. Commissioner John Wilkerson asked Chen about the reasoning behind extending the plan, wondering why it requires such a long extension.
Chen said the developers needed time to expand North Village Parkway and build a bridge in the Zone 2 plan so they could even start construction in that area. The movement would start from the north side of the development area and apartments would be built about halfway.
Vice President Michael Fortney supported the overall plan, but expressed concerns about the allocation of funds for building the public park. According to Chen, North Village Development will provide over $1 million in grants to cover the credit gap they will get for the park, although the dog park will cost an additional $1.5 million to complete.
Prior to the vote, the commission held a public hearing to allow the public to discuss their concerns and any potential conflicts or issues it may cause. Brandon Kline, the chairman of the Planning Commission, initially stepped down to avoid a conflict of interest since his home is in the affected area, but then appeared to speak as a public citizen, giving up his ability to vote on the motion.
Kline said he saw no significant public benefit in the plan’s proposed changes, which would require extending construction efforts to 2045. Kline argued that extending the plan would not help to build the school faster and that it was unclear who benefited from such a proposal.
“As commissioners, you should be looking at the public interest,” Kline said. “To some extent, the public benefits from the big parts of the plan, such as the removal of the swimming club. It’s a huge public benefit that’s being taken away.
Kline said he appeared to be speaking on behalf of North Village residents who were unable to attend in person because many of them did not know when or where the meeting was being held.
The commission voted 5-0 to recommend the plan to city council for full approval. Commissioner Edward Laborite was absent.