City hosts Farmstead neighborhood development workshop

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The City of Winters hosted a Zoom neighborhood workshop on July 13 for the proposed housing and commercial Farmstead plan. The plan now calls for 200 single-family residences, 84 multi-family apartments, 144,700-square feet of reconfigured commercial space, and open lawn and picnic space

The Farmstead site is located along the north side of Grant Avenue, directly across from the end of E. Main Street.

Attending on behalf of the city were City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa, City planner Dave Dowswell, City engineer Alan Mitchel and Economic development and housing manager Dan McGuire. Present on behalf of Farmstead were property owner Mark Skreden and Tim Denham, a project engineer with the firm of Wood Rogers, Inc.

Skreden said that he and his partner have owned the Farmstead site since 2006. He said he has given the project a lot of thought, as the area is essentially the “gateway to Winters.”

“Our first goal was to theme the development and we believe ‘Farmstead’ best celebrates the heritage of Winters,” Skreden said.

Dowswell started the workshop by providing background to the 44 Zoom attendees. The project started in 2012 when it was considered for a land use change along I-505, , Dowswell said. At that time, the expectation was there would be 145 housing units and 144,000 square feet of commercial space.

Since 2012, Dowswell said the project has evolved into a plan with 200 homes, or about a 50 percent increase, and up to 84 multi-family units with reconfigured commercial space. Of the 200 detached single family units, 30 are required to be affordable income units.

“Staff, with the applicant’s consent, determined that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) would be needed,” Dowswell stated. The 2012 environmental document contained language to the effect that if substantial changes to the plan were requested then further environmental review would be required. Dowswell continued, “… that’s a situation where there are environmental issues that need to be considered and that may or may not be able to be mitigated…”

The Winters City Council approved Resolution 2021-40 at their July 6 meeting for a $126,720 professional services agreement with Raney Planning & Management, Inc. to prepare an EIR. The process of completing an EIR was estimated to take about one year and the developer is responsible for paying for it.

Dowswell said Skreden plans to sell the land to a production home builder and keep the commercial property to develop himself. The multi-family site, Dowswell said, “is sort of in flux as to what will ultimately happen to that property; whether it will be deeded over to the city or whether a non-profit builder or for-profit builder will acquire it has yet to be determined.”

Denham presented a PowerPoint presentation indicating where changes had been made from the initial 2019 subdivision map and the 2021 map. Delays were reported due to coordination of drainage facilities and the city is requiring a more comprehensive EIR over a Mitigation Negative Declaration for environmental impact.

Land plan changes included installing a drainage channel, installing new culverts on East Grant Avenue, building a berm on the north and east sides, creating water basins in the park to hold 10 and 100 year water flows, improving street connections with Walnut Lane to ease traffic, creating 5.9 acres of park, approximately one mile of shared bike/pedestrian trails and open grass areas.

After Denham’s presentation the workshop was opened to the audience for comment, which by this time had grown to 66 attendees.

Community attendees questioned why homes were being built close together and wanted to know where water to the new homes was coming from. Another attendee wanted to know where streets and pedestrian crossings would be located and expressed concerns about freeway access, traffic control and pedestrian safety.

A couple of attendees were curious to know what type of commercial businesses would occupy the proposed commercial spaces. A grocery store to occupy one of the commercial spots was discussed.

Denham said for a grocery store to be interested they typically look for communities with about “12,000 rooftops.” Another attendee commented that Lorenzo’s would not survive competing with a larger supermarket.

Going forward, Denham said technical studies are in the works which will include a traffic impact analysis, water analysis and likely a greenhouse gas and air quality analysis. He suggested that a good opportunity to host a future community meeting would be in a couple of months.

Both Denham and Dowswell explained that there is still a lot of work to be done and the concerns raised during the workshop would be studied, analyzed and coordinated with the appropriate agencies. To provide the community as much transparency as possible, Dowswell said he would work to find the easiest way for interested parties to access the city’s website to find the project’s most up-to-date information and links.

Trepa said she would continue to provide email update in her weekly City Manager’s Update that can be found on the city’s website and interested individuals can sign up to receive by email the weekly update by emailing kathleen.trepa@cityofwinters.org

Skreden closed the meeting saying, “I thought there were a lot of really good comments tonight and I appreciate everyone’s participation.”

The Zoom meeting recording and PowerPoint presentation can be viewed on the city’s website at: http://projects.cityofwinters.org/farmstead-subdivision/.

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