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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Staff Recommends Council Stall Cannery Park for another Shot At Covell Village

While the proposals in the County Supervisors General Plan update have rightly gotten much of the attention this week, there is in addition to the very important County Supervisor's meeting this afternoon, some very important items of the Davis City Council agenda for tonight.

The Cannery Park proposed housing development is surrounded on two sides by the site that was the proposed Covell Village.

It is very interesting now that the staff report is suggesting that approving the Cannery Park proposal before the completion of the update to the housing element might be "premature."

Claire St. John's article on Sunday in the Davis Enterprise does a very good job of laying out the possibilities that this is a ploy to stall for time in terms of getting another shot at the project that the council majority and staff really want--Covell Village.

She writes that there is nothing to prevent a future proposed development once again on the Covell Village site. "If that were to happen, the city might have other uses for Cannery Park." As such, the city might be better off leaving the area zone for industrial use as it now rather than a 600 home develop with set asides for a nursing home, community center, or another public use.

St. John continues: "The city might also like Cannery Park to be seamless with whatever might be built next door." Thus implying that staff things perhaps they would like to wait and see if they can get Covell Village approved before they create a usage for the Cannery Park site.

Indeed, when we look at the make up of the housing element committee, as we have profiled just some of the members, we see a strong strain running through that committee. The members appointed by Souza, Saylor, and Asmundson were virtually all strong proponents of Measure X and many were strong opponents of Measure J.

Moreover some on that committee have a very strong financial stake in a future development project at the Covell Village site. As we see John Whitcombe's Tandem Properties, who planned and sought the development of the Covell Village project, is well represented on that committee, as were others with peripheral interests to the Covell Village Development project.

As we know, given concerns about traffic and now the availability and costs of water and wastewater treatment, it may be now or never to revisit the Covell Village project.

Thus it is not surprising that a staff report is recommending that the City Council wait and see rather than approve this project.

Caught in the middle, Ken Topper, senior project manager for Lewis Planned Communities who owns the property, who would like council's approval for his project but expressed patience.

Nevertheless it is pretty clear that developers such as Topper are not the city's priority as they eye another end-run around the General Plan and Measure J to get the final nod for the massive Covell Village.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting