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American Canyon luxury apartments provoke concerns

American Canyon luxury apartments provoke concerns

  • Updated
The Village at Vintage Ranch

AMERICAN CANYON — This south county city may add more luxury apartments despite the traffic and other concerns they may cause for residents.

Just off one of the city’s busiest intersections would be the Village at Vintage Ranch, a 159-unit “upscale” apartment complex being considered by the American Canyon Planning Commission.

The development, slated for 11.6 acres near American Canyon Road and Highway 29, has been a decade in the making. The project was originally approved in 2006, but became stalled after the housing crisis and Great Recession.

Advanced Building Solutions of Petaluma took over a few years ago, and switched the plan from condos to luxury 2- and 3-bedroom apartments.

The upscale rental housing would follow in the gilded footsteps of The Reliant Group’s Canyon Ridge and its 148 luxury units, set to open in 2017 in the north part of town near Wal-Mart.

Residents of the proposed Village at Vintage Ranch would access the complex from Silver Oak Trail, a key road that connects American Canyon Road to the streets of Vintage Ranch, American Canyon’s largest housing subdivision to date.

Some of the homeowners living in Vintage Ranch have raised concerns about the Village, saying the approximately 500 people living there would add to the traffic congestion on American Canyon Road.

“There’s already heavy traffic and accidents” in the area, Sam Said of Silver Oak Terrace told the Planning Commission in December. “There’s too many speeders, too many things going on already on that road.”

“What are you going to do about that?” he asked.

Charles Quenga, who lives right across from the project on the corner of Toscana Lane and Silver Oak Trail, agreed with Said’s concerns. “There’s a horrible amount of traffic that goes through there,” said Quenga.

They were the only two from Vintage Ranch to appear at the Dec. 15 meeting. But Quenga said there was reason for this: the city sent meeting notices to only those living within 300 feet of the project.

A staff report prepared for the commission confirmed it is the city’s policy to notify those residing 300 feet from a new development.

Quenga said the outreach needs to expand.

“So my neighbor three houses down doesn’t know” what’s going on, he said. “They’re not getting notices. That’s not fair to the rest of the community.”

“There’s a whole lot more people who need to know about this,” Quenga added.

Commissioner Bernie Zipay said he was sympathetic to the homeowners’ concerns, and agreed more people should be informed about the project.

“It would be helpful and needed to have another outreach to the community,” said Zipay.

Seth Nobmann, CEO of Advanced Building Solutions, said his company would conduct more outreach to neighboring homes.

Commission Chairman Eric Altman expressed his own concerns related to public safety — an earthquake fault runs through the property — and the number of small changes being made to the project since Advanced Building Solutions took over.

“I’ve established a reputation for being a pain in the butt when it comes to safety concerns,” said Altman. “I get nervous whenever there is only one exit from a property, particularly with a fault line running through the area.”

“If something happens and you can’t traverse it,” Altman said, “how do people get out?”

Altman was referring to the placement of all possible vehicle exits on the east side of the property bordering Silver Oak Trail.

Half of the complex would border American Canyon Road, but no egress points are planned for the southwest portion of the parcel. And running smack through the middle of the development is the West Napa Fault.

If a disaster made it impossible for residents to drive across the complex and exit onto Silver Oak Trail, they would have no other way to flee by car.

The Village’s layout has been modified in several ways since its original conception last decade. Building setbacks and a clubhouse were added, among other changes.

Altman noted the commission was looking at a series of minor modifications, “which on their own are minor,” but “when you toll it all up I think that’s where the concern is. It’s not so much a minor modification but a significant modification” altogether.

Still another commissioner, Richard Peterson, wondered if the addition of the Village would impact the neighboring school, Canyon Oaks Elementary.

Peterson asked if the city had contacted the Napa Valley Unified School District about enrollment projections stemming from the complex.

Any increase in students for the Canyon Oaks attendance area could be problematic since the school is already crowded, forcing some families to send their kids across the highway to Donaldson Way Elementary School.

The Planning Commission took no action on the project. It is scheduled to bring it back for more discussion on Jan. 26.

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