First look at Stonegate
A big southeast-side development proposal comes under scrutiny
A major aspect of Chico’s future is becoming visible to those paying attention to development plans for the southeast part of the city.
Three large projects there are either under construction, close to it or in the planning process. If all are built as envisioned, they cumulatively will create, at a minimum, more than 4,000 new dwelling units on more than 900 acres of land.
Two of the projects, the 270-acre Meriam Park Community and the 340-acre Oak Valley subdivision, have been approved. Construction is well underway on the latter, and the former is expected to break ground in the next few months (see “Groundbreaker,” Newslines, June 30).
The latest to enter the approval pipeline is the Stonegate subdivision, to be built on 313 acres east and west of Bruce Road between East 20th Street and the Skyway. It proposes 415 single-family homes on standard lots, 45 homes on half-acre lots, and an unspecified number of multifamily units on 12.4 acres. It also would set aside 35.2 acres for commercial use.
In addition, it would allocate 2.6 acres for a neighborhood park and 108.2 acres as open space along a Butte Creek diversion channel that bisects the property on its eastern side.
Epick Homes debuted its proposal on Tuesday (July 12) at a scoping meeting held at City Council chambers. Epick is owned by longtime local developer Pete Giampaoli.
The scoping meeting was the first of several public meetings that will be held as Stonegate goes through the approval process, including hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council. Its purpose was to give members of the public an opportunity to say what issues they thought should be addressed in the project’s environmental impact report. Those unable to attend the meeting have until July 21 to submit comments (see info box).
Hosting the scoping meeting were Chico Senior Planner Bob Summerville and two representatives of San Rafael-based WRA, the consulting company hired to prepare the EIR.
More than 20 people offered comments. About half of them lived in the long-established neighborhood immediately to the west of the proposed project. They wanted the EIR to address the issue of traffic through their neighborhood.
Residents along Parkhurst Street, in particular, were concerned by the project’s plan to punch their quiet residential street through to Bruce Road, turning it into a cut-through that would greatly increase the number of cars and their speeds and put their children at risk.
“We don’t need a thoroughfare next to East 20th Street,” said Melanie Kendrick, who lives on Parkhurst.
Others wanted WRA to look closely at the project’s potential environmental impacts on vernal pools and endangered Butte County meadowfoam populations, which are on the verge of extinction.
Other questions: What impact would the development have on groundwater? How many wetlands would be lost? What about the historic rock walls on the property?
Patty Moriarty, speaking on behalf of the group Friends of Butte Creek, asked WRA to analyze the impact runoff into the diversion channel would have on lower Butte Creek. Runoff water should be used to recharge the groundwater, not pollute the creek, she said.
Others wondered where the children in the new subdivision would go to school. Julie Kistle, director of facilities and construction for the Chico Unified School District, said CUSD would like the EIR to address routes to existing campuses as well as the future high school planned for Chico.
Summerville pointed out that this meeting was just the beginning of the approval process. Epick must also obtain permits from several governmental agencies, including the federal EPA, which has not looked favorably on earlier iterations of this project. And it must convince the City Council that the several general-plan and zoning changes it wants to make are justified.