Decision time has finally arrived for a controversial proposed home development that has spent more than a decade going through the planning process.
The 166-home Tierra Robles planned development east of Redding came before the Shasta County Planning Commission on Wednesday afternoon, a meeting that is expected to go into the evening.
Developer Shasta Red LLC of Beverly Hills wants to build the homes on rolling hills west of Deschutes Road, south and east of Old Alturas Road and north of Boyle Road in the Palo Cedro area.
But to do that, the company wants to change the zoning on the property to allow homes with lots ranging in size from 1.19 acres to 6.81 acres.
Robert Geringer, of Shasta Red, has owned the property since 2005 and told the commission at Wednesday’s meeting that he has built neighborhoods around the country, including the greater Nashville, Tennessee, area.
“This is not a get-in and get-out idea. This is a lifelong project,” Geringer said, adding that it will be at least a 10-year buildout.
Both Geringer and Hellman of the county noted that even if the county approves the project, it cannot move forward without a water agreement, which Shasta Red has yet to sign.
Shasta Red’s land development representative said average lot size will be 4 acres and 75% of the property will be designated for open space.
A group of Palo Cedro and Bella Vista residents, called Protect Against Tierra Robles Overdeveloped Lands, or PATROL, that oppose the plans believes the development will bring increased fire risk, more traffic and more calls for law enforcement. They also contend it will put more pressure on water use.
“It’s all about safety and they all lead back to that. How do we safely evacuate (in a wildfire) with all those added people on a two-lane road like Boyle Road?” Debbie Bazan, a member of the PATROL steering committee who lives off Boyle Road, said before Wednesday’s meeting.
Sheriff opposes home project
The county Planning Department recommends approval of the project. The Planning Commission will consider the recommendation and then send their decision to the Board of Supervisors, which has the final say.
When the project will come before supervisors is not yet known.
The project is in Supervisor Mary Rickert’s district.
“I have been following it for many years, ever since I got into office and I am well aware of all the concerns. I met with various people, the residents in the general area and listened to their concerns. I can’t share my opinion prior to vote,” Rickert said.
Shasta County Sheriff Michael Johnson opposes the project.
In a letter to Resource Management Director Paul Hellman, Sheriff Michael Johnson voiced concerns about traffic, calls for service, the impact it will have on Palo Cedro, water and increased fire risk.
The development would bring more people to the area and that “could increase the need to a two-deputy minimum requiring the Sheriff to increase patrol staff by eight deputies to cover all shifts, thus adding additional support staff, detectives, equipment, vehicles, computers, etc,” Johnson said in his letter.
Tierra Robles would have six phases
In his response to Johnson, Hellman said all development can potentially increase calls for service.
“The density of the proposed project is substantially lower than traditional single-family residential subdivisions in incorporated cities,” Hellman said.
Hellman added the proposed development would be built in six phases, which means the population increase would happen over a period of years, and the cost for increased law enforcement would be paid for by impact fees for each house.
As for water use, Hellman said the developer would have to enter into an agreement with the Bella Vista Water District to provide supplemental water to the district during drought years until the district has established three successive years of full water use for Tierra Robles.
The Bella Vista Water District essentially has the same agreement with the new Bethel Church campus planned for east Redding off Collyer Drive. The city of Redding approved the campus in December 2017.
Hellman told commissioners that despite the drought the Bella Vista Water District and jurisdictions like the city of Redding continue to approve development. There are no building or development moratoriums in Shasta County, he added.
Commissioner raises questions
Should building or development restrictions be put in place, the Tierra Robles project would be halted, if it were to be approved, Hallman said.
But commissioner Pat Wallner, who is a plumbing contractor, said he has concerns about the current drought and water use going forward.
“I know it’s a big deal now and it’s getting worse, not better,” Wallner said.
Sandra Kotch, also a member of PATROL, said she almost lost her home during the 1999 Jones Fire, which torched 26,000 acres, destroyed 174 homes and led to the death of one firefighter. That fire burned from Jones Valley nearly all the way to Anderson.
“If we have 166 homes and everybody is (going on to Boyle Road) that is going to be a bigger problem,” Kotch said before the meeting of the potential fire risk.
This is the second high-profile project to come before the county Planning Commission in less than a year.
Last June, the commissioners, bucking a staff recommendation, unanimously rejected the use permit for the Fountain Wind project planned for the Intermountain area just west of Burney.
Four months later in October, supervisors agreed and by a 4-1 vote rejected the project after the Planning Commission’s decision was appealed by the wind farm applicant.
David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly “Buzz on the Street” column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-225-8219. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.