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150-unit apartment project to move forward after Danville rejects appeal by residents

DANVILLE — The Town Council denied the appeal of a resident group opposed to a 150-unit apartment project near Interstate 680, which means the project should now move forward — even if a few more modifications to the plans may still be made.
Council members voted 3-1 Tuesday, with an abstention, to deny the appeal, though one “yes” vote was very reluctant.
“I hate making the motion, and I hate the project moving forward,” said Robert Storer, who with Karen Stepper and Lisa Blackwell voted to reject the appeal.
The Riverwalk at Downtown Danville project by Los Gatos-based Danville Office Partners, LLC is set to be built on a 3.7-acre parcel just west of Interstate 680 and east of downtown. The site is between existing commercial buildings (including the Heritage Bank) and San Ramon Creek.
The Planning Commission on Feb. 28 approved the project at 373-383 Diablo Road after almost three years (and a change in developers) of back-and-forth over the project’s size and design. There was early council opposition to the designs but after some discussion with town staff, changes resulted in a more acceptable project, council members said.
Among the biggest modifications were changes to the building design itself, removal of parking at the back of the project, and preserving more of the oak trees around it.
On March 9, the group Danville Citizens for Responsible Growth filed an appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval, citing several criticisms of the project, from the height of the main buildings (37 feet) to concerns about additional traffic and pressure on local schools. The group also argued that the property’s covenants, conditions and restrictions don’t allow for residential units there. Many group supporters told the council their worries haven’t abated over time.
Council members said they had plenty of concerns of their own about the character of the development, and whether it meets Danville’s strict standards. Renee Morgan said she still isn’t satisfied with it, and voted for the appeal.
Others said that three years of work have yielded a much better project, and a needed one. Councilman Newell Arnerich, who abstained, said the back-and-forth has been “the most difficult professional process I’ve ever seen” in town government, and said the developer has harassed him and town staff for years over it.
But council members admitted the project has improved greatly over time. “It has the tiny flourishes that Danville likes,” said Councilwoman Lisa Blackwell. “It did look like Dublin last April; this (now) looks like a Danville project.”
Separately, Danville Office Partners sued two other property owners within the project area, claiming those owners have been invoking out-of-date property restrictions to block residential development on the three parcels on which these apartments would be built. Town Attorney Rob Ewing said the lawsuit has no bearing on the town’s actions regarding the apartment approvals.

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