The San Ramon Planning Commission recommended denying the San Ramon Golf Club perimeter fencing project Tuesday night, when the club’s owner failed to submit follow-up information to the city after threatening to close their course if the fencing project was not approved.
According to city officials, the club owners failed to respond to requests for additional information from the Planning Commission and did not show up to Tuesday’s public hearing on the topic, resulting in commissioners recommending the project be denied at their upcoming Aug. 20 meeting.
“The applicant has not responded to any of the requests for information that we have posed,” Planning Commission chair Gary Alpert said during the meeting in City Hall. “My understanding is the finding will be found largely on the non-response to the very specific requests that we made at the April 16 meeting.”
The project that has caused such a ruckus from the San Ramon community -- previous meetings have seen hundreds of residents show up to speak in opposition to the project -- consists of a black wrought-iron fence surrounding the entire golf course property centered at 9430 Fircrest Lane.
The proposal would consist of a six-foot-high, black vinyl-coated, chain-link fence abutting residential areas bordering the property, and a four-foot-high black, wrought-iron fence against city-owned property on the public right-of-way. The project would also remove some gate access that has been installed by property owners to enter the golf course.
Residents who live in the area have taken issue with certain aspects of the fencing project, particularly over concerns of decreasing property value, obstructed views of the golf course, fears that emergency personal will not be able to access the course in emergency situations and the aesthetics of the fence itself to name a few.
San Ramon Golf Club officials have said that the fencing project is a matter of safety, and a necessary action if the course is to continue operating. In an email sent on May 6, attorney Ronald Richards told the Planning Commission just that on behalf of San Ramon Golf Club management.
“We need to secure this property and the city’s failure to allow a fence exposes the city to a large indemnity claim based upon governmental interference with a public safety matter. If we cannot secure the asset, we will have no choice but to close the course which is something we do not want to do,” Richards said. “We would have inadequate insurance and cannot allow the course to operate with this preexisting knowledge.”
"Please do not put us in this position by refusing a relatively inexpensive security fix which protects both the City, the public, and us from personal injury and other lawsuits," he added.
After making this statement however, the applicant apparently proceeded to ignore the city’s requests for additional information that city officials deemed vital in its decision making process, specifically information that relates to specific issues brought up by residents during previous public hearings. This was followed on July 16 with an email from Richards requesting that the Planning Commission postpone the public hearing on the project “indefinitely.”
However, according to senior planner Cindy Yee, legally Tuesday’s public meeting could not be postponed and a decision would need to be made by the commission no later than Aug. 27.
“The city has sent several correspondences to the property owner essentially identifying that due to statutory limitations, we are obligated to form a public hearing and make a determination on this project before Aug. 27,” Yee said Tuesday. “Staff recommend… a resolution recommending denying the application due to lack of information and additional response for comments.”
Yee further added that she told the applicant they were welcome to withdraw their application for resubmission in the future if they were not prepared for the commission’s deliberations on the project.
“I just want to be clear that an applicant's lack of response to questions from the governing body in and of itself can be the basis for denying a land-use permit,” said Commissioner Eric Wallis.
The difference between without prejudice and with prejudice is the timing in which an applicant can resubmit their proposed project. Staff said they believe denying the project without prejudice is appropriate because the applicant was informed that if they were not ready they can withdraw their application and resubmit later. If the project is denied without prejudice then the San Ramon Golf Club would not be able to submit an application for 12 months.
The San Ramon Planning Commission is set to make their final decision on the San Ramon Golf Club fencing project during its regular meeting on Aug. 20.
In other business
*During their regular meeting on Tuesday night, the Planning Commission also approved a land-use permit for the installation of a new wireless facility on a new vertical structure in front of the Kaiser Permanente within the 2300 block of Camino Ramon.
Submitted by Verizon Wireless, city associate planner Shinei Tsukamoto sats the wireless cell facility will be placed in the “most preferred location” because this area of Camino Ramon is designated as a commercial area and no residential property can be found within a 500-foot radius of the site.
*The Promenade at the Preserve housing development proposal was also discussed at length, as Commissioners reviewed the potential for a 162-unit housing complex in an area formerly known as the Faria Preserve.
The project itself consists of 40 single-family residential units, 122 condominium units, and a 2-acre future house of worship site on a 12.6-acre property located in Neighborhood V of the Preserve project area.
Commissioners decidedly approved of the project and have recommended that the City Council approve the project -- a decision the council will make at an unspecified future date.
*Commissioners also heard public comment on the potential land-uses for the Mudd’s restaurant parcel and Laborer’s property, which city staff are considering rezoning to create a park area and adjust the urban growth boundary of the Laborer’s property.