Higher density; tough row to hoe

Tracy McDonald is a Business professor at Chico State University and resident of Doe Mill

Boy, was I naïve.

I thought that since New Urban Builders (NUB) has staked its reputation on caring about the communities it affects, owners Tom DiGiovanni and John Anderson would listen and, perhaps, even modify the density of their planned row-house development that has so many of us Doe Mill residents concerned. I respected John and Tom for creating the neighborhood I love and felt conflicted about filing an appeal against them. That worry was misplaced. These guys play dirty. For example:

Anderson went to neighbors’ homes stating that if I won the appeal, Doe Mill would be required to build even higher density apartments, a manipulative untruth. My appeal was about density and the hope of compromise. We love our dense, beautiful neighborhood, but doubling that density, from the current 9.7 units per acre to the 18.5 units per acre all in one area worries us in terms of noise, traffic and parking.

Before buying our homes, many of us asked what the plans were for the row-house land. Doe Mill told us that lower-density fourplexes would go in. Then that plan was changed to houses. We asked, but no one informed us that NUB had approval to build three-story, high-density dwellings. Neighbors who bought more recently were truthfully informed, but where does that leave the rest of us?

NUB orchestrated a pro-high density group of speakers for the meeting, many of whom have a suspicious relationship with NUB. Included were two Doe Mill employees, a man who is slated to do the trim on the row houses (not acknowledged), thus gaining financially, that man’s wife and a non-resident woman who loved the row-house concept who turned out to be Anderson’s mother-in-law. What would motivate people so strongly to speak at a meeting saying they prefer high density?

During the meeting, DiGiovanni was seen, seemingly, coaching people before they spoke.

Since noise and traffic are a concern, I checked out the environmental impact report (EIR) that was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1992, with duration of the approval of only two years. When I asked to see the current approval, no one at planning could help me. Does NUB even have the necessary approvals?

I pleaded with John and Tom for compromise. I asked them to be socially responsible. They refused. At $300,000 to $400,000 a pop, I wonder if the profits from more than $13 million worth of row houses have anything to do with it?