Shortly before the letter was sent Davidson Communities had dust fencing erected around the site and a few mechanical vehicles have appeared spraying water and giving an impression that development has "started". But this could all be just for show, to help get the extension and we have been here before.
Dust fencing has been erected around this site in the past and nothing happened other than the site was sold to another developer. That could be what is happening here again. This is speculative but the reasons for believing that to be a possibility are numerous:
- The plans for the development are a decade old, were not developed by Davidson Communities, are inconsistent with the style of their other developments and are becoming dated.
- The derelict Magruder building and the vagrancy problem in the immediate area may appear to a development firm to be intractable and so reduces the market appeal of expensive housing on the site, i.e. they may have decided that the blight of the Magruder building will make it too difficult for them to sell the houses they might build for the prices they'd like to get.
- Davidson Communities have not kept their promises to the local community. They promised to hold informative meetings with local people but haven't. They also stated that their expected start date was first Fall 2014, then it was Spring 2015, neither of which are consistent with finding that the site is somehow too "complex" to submit plans.
- The value of land with an entitlement has increased significantly since Davidson Communities bought it. They may have decided to cash in on that increase and sell the property on to someone else, but they need the entitlements to be renewed to do so. That's what the previous developers did, while beforehand stringing the local community along with promises of an imminent start.
It's not unreasonable to speculate when Davidson Communities left an information vacuum despite repeated requests to them to tell local people what is going on. It is only now, at the 11th hour, and when they need something from the community that they are attending a meeting (Tuesday, June 9th. 7pm, Presbyterian Church Hall) to say something. Note that this meeting was not their idea.
This meeting is being held at the request of the City's new Director of Planning, Flinn Fagg, who has sought input from residents before the extension request is considered.
We asked the Director of Planning some questions and his answers arrived yesteray. Here they are, our questions in black , the Director's words in red. He began by explaining what he had done.
I sent an email to Tim O’Grady requesting that he notify area residents of construction schedule and impacts. Please feel free to contact him should you have any questions about the project:
Executive Vice President, Land Development – Davidson Communities
a). On what date was a copy of Mr. Davidson’s letter provided to the TRE NO?
I provided an electronic copy of the letter to the organization yesterday (and also attaching a copy for you as well).
b). What is the process for considering and determining the request for a further one-year extension, e.g. is this determined by the Planning Commission, (PC), and if so when will that meet? If not who decides and by when?
The extension of time application is heard by the Planning Commission; the meeting date is determined by staff based on work load and available meeting dates. I anticipate that this would be heard by the Planning Commission either at their meeting of June 24th or July 8th. The only criteria listed in the code for consideration of extension of time applications is as follows: “Extensions of time may be allowed for good cause.”
c). What if any conditions can the decision-maker (i.e. the PC or other person or body), impose on Davidson Communities should the extension be granted? I ask this especially as there appears to be some confusion in the minds of local residents about this with one asking for “concessions” to be given by the developer, while another is concerned about what treatment will be applied at the boundary of the property with the maintenance roadway that runs along side.
The Planning Commission only considers whether the extension of time shall be granted. The extension of time application is merely to extend the time period in which the developer/property owner can secure building permits based on the approvals originally granted.
d). If the extension is not granted, what happens to the project then?
If the extension is not granted, the developer/property owner would need to submit new applications and go through the public hearing process again.
e). Can you please confirm that Mr. Davidson’s statement that not only the architectural plans for the communal building but also those for all the residences have been submitted to the City, or, if that is not correct please confirm which plans exactly have been submitted.
The developer has been issued a grading permit; they have submitted a building permit for the community recreation building, but the permit has not yet been approved. We don’t have a record that they’ve submitted any building permit applications for residences, contrary to the statement in Mr. Davidson’s letter.
The Director also added the following:
While extension of time applications are not public hearings, any member of the public is welcome to either attend the Planning Commission meeting and speak under the “Public Comments” portion of the agenda, or may submit a letter to the Planning Commission which we are happy to include in the backup materials for the item. Comment letters can be sent directly to me.
Since then Ms. Middleton has been appointed to the Palm Springs Planning Commission, the very body that will decide this extension request.