Council approves Winters Highlands Subdivision agreement

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The Winters City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2021-46 at their July 20 meeting approving a partial assignment and assumption agreement for the final three phases of Winters Highlands, the development located in the northwestern portion of the city.

Homes by Towne (HBT) sold the land for the three final Winters Highlands phases to Meritage Homes last February. Phase 1 and Phase 2 are currently being developed by HBT, K Hovnanian and Crowne Communities. Although Meritage has property rights from the sale, they did not obtain development rights.

The assignment and assumption agreement will transfer entitlement rights and obligations under the existing development agreement from HBT to Meritage, except for 52 alley-loaded lots in Phase 3 that HBT will retain. Meritage would also assume and pay for a new city water well, well No. 8, and assume HBT’s outstanding affordable housing obligation for 19 units.

Meritage has agreed to add four additional moderate-income units that were not obligated under the HBT development agreement, increasing the number of affordable units to 23.

Staff anticipates bringing to council at the Aug. 3 council meeting a request to consider an urgency ordinance for a 45-day grading moratorium. This would allow staff time to prepare a comprehensive grading ordinance as Winters currently doesn’t have one.

There would be a carve-out for Meritage Homes to begin the grading process prior to an approved grading ordinance, conditioned on certain requirements being met, such as having a fully executed assignment and assumption agreement, property grading documentation and Meritage providing a surety bond.

Mayor Wade Cowan asked, “Just to be clear, Meritage would still be allowed to begin their grading once everybody signs on the dotted line?” City Manager, Kathleen Salguero Trepa, replied that if the appropriate documentation that comes with standard grading conditions are satisfied before the Aug. 3 meeting, the city would issue a grading permit.

Meritage Vice President Jeremy Goulart, said, “We’re very happy to be part of the community, building on our existing connection here.”

Goulart told the council that Meritage will be building out 149 lots in Phase 3, Phase 4 and Phase 5 — including 16 duplex lots as moderate income units and said, “We are eager to get started.”

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