Planning commission approves 148 home site plans amid drought concern

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The Winters Planning Commission held a public hearing at their July 27 meeting on the site plan and design review application made by Meritage Homes. The plan is for the completion of Phases 3, 4 and 5 — the final three phases of the Winters Highlands subdivision.

Winters’ Contract Planner Dave Dowswell told the commission that the Design Review Committee considered the designs and provided comments about universal design, visitability (the measure of a home’s ease of access for people with disabilities), more color design and a model for multi-generational living.

Dowswell said that as part of the Conditions of Approval, Meritage offers universal design and will work with a buyer if they want to modify a home to meet universal design requirements, such as accessible entryways, wide doorway openings and halls, flush thresholds and non-skid surfaces in bathrooms. Under the terms of the conditions of approval, Meritage is not required to build a product for multi-generational families or visitability.

Meritage is offering three models: farmhouse, coastal and Santa Barbara and 47 elevations, or exterior design variations. With the number of color schemes, floor plans and elevations there were said to be 285 possible combinations for the 148 homes.

During public comment, resident Mike Brown told the commission that during the 44 years he’s been a Winters resident 20 of them have been historic drought years. Brown questioned how water would be supplied to the new homes during extended periods of drought. Dowswell said the project was designed to provide the necessary water and pointed to a new well to be constructed for additional water capacity. Additionally, he said the development’s landscaping is required to be drought resistant.

City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa said that the City of Winters is part of the Yolo Subbasin Ground Water Agency, a collaborative effort among multiple jurisdictions and agencies to manage the underground aquifers and resources.

“So, we are part of a larger effort that is looking at underground water supply,” Trepa said.

The commission voted to accept the application. Two commissioners, Lisa Baker and Judith Arce, recused themselves from the discussion and vote as they own property within 500 feet of the project and therefore have a financial conflict of interest.

Recently appointed continuing and new commission members Arce, Baker, Nancy Northrup and Jessica Smith were sworn in to serve four-year terms through July 1, 2025.

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