City will pay up to $4,000 for Rancho Hills project review

New homes could soon occupy this space along Rancho Hills

The City of Gilroy will pay up to $4,000 to an independent firm
tasked with reviewing a controversial 71-home development before
the Gilroy City Council’s next meeting Monday night.
The City of Gilroy will pay up to $4,000 to an independent firm tasked with reviewing a controversial 71-home development before the Gilroy City Council’s next meeting Monday night.

The Council was expected to vote on the project’s final map – and approve it to stay in line with state law, according to the city attorney – during its July 18 meeting. But a 4-3 vote delayed the decision until an Aug. 1 meeting. That vote called for city staff to hire an outside engineer to review the plans and City Attorney Linda Callon was asked to look into possible legal action against the state.

The city tabbed CSG Consultants, which gave city officials an estimate of between $3,000 and $4,000 to finish the work by the next Council meeting, said Kristi Abrams, the city’s community development director.

Councilman Peter Leroe-Munoz, who voted in favor of the delay, said he thought the money would be well spent.

“It’s one of these things where you’re making an investment to make sure you’re exploring your options,” Leroe-Munoz said. “That’s not, at least to me, a number that’s wildly inappropriate. Let’s do the study. Let’s figure out whatever our legal options are.”

The project in question is located on Rancho Hills Drive in northwest Gilroy, and is being developed in tandem by the Glen Loma Corporation and Arcadia Development Company.

The Council approved the project’s tentative map in January 2007, then renewed the project’s expired allotments through the city’s residential development ordinance in October 2010. By law, the Council is obligated to approve the final map by Aug. 1 because city staff found it to be in compliance with the tentative map, Callon said.

After more than 370 letters and almost two months of frustrated pleas from residents and neighbors, Council members Peter Arellano, Cat Tucker, Perry Woodward and Peter Leroe-Munoz voted July 18 to extend the deadline.

Mayor Al Pinheiro and Councilmen Bob Dillon and Dion Bracco voted against the extension.

“Four of the council members wanted it, so we go with the majority,” said Councilman Dion Bracco, who voted against the delay. “I think it’s a waste of money, but we’ll see.”

Bracco said he agreed with Dillon, who also voted against the delay and said last week the Council should have given residents the “bad news” immediately.

“It’s better to just give people the bad news upfront. Why prolong it?” Bracco said. “We know what the outcome is going to be. I hate to just jerk people’s chain and give them false hope.”

Leroe-Muñoz said that while he understands and respects past Councils’ decisions to move the project along, he won’t consider approving the project a formality.

“You want to make sure that we’re fully responsive to the needs of our community today,” he said. “You have to do a delicate balancing act. That’s why its important to do that study to know what we need going forward.”

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