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April 28, 2017
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Cotati delays vote on Valparaiso

By: Dave Williams
March 31, 2017
Residents express strong opposition to Dorfman Drive, Fehler Lane connection

The housing project slated to be built at 100 Valparaiso in Cotati has received plenty of pushback from the residents from nearby housing developments. 

The residents of Hunter’s Ridge are not opposed to the housing complex, which was scaled back from its original plan of 62 homes to 46 that also includes six affordable housing units. Their opposition is borne of what they believe will be potential traffic problems and privacy issues because of the height of some of the proposed homes.

The part of the project most troubling to the residents of Hunter’s Ridge is having Dorfman Drive, which is a dead-end street, connect to Fehler Lane, creating a thoroughfare residents deem unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

The Cotati City Council held a public hearing on this topic at its meeting on Tuesday, March 28, before a packed council chambers audience. Rather than following the recommendation of city staff to approve a development permit and vesting tentative map amendment, the council asked the developers, Colvin 100A LLC, to come back at a later date with more information as to how the residents’ concerns could be met.

Kelly Butler, who said she and her husband have lived in Cotati for only a short time, is concerned about the probable increase in traffic could be a danger to children playing in the street.

“I don’t want to be in a situation where I have to walk my 9-year-old across street to play with her friends in the neighborhood,” she said. “Right now it’s a very quiet neighborhood…no through traffic. This will change the nature of the neighborhood and our dream house that we purchased.”

Butler and her husband both work from home and understand there will be some disruption because of the construction noise. But she wants no part of the disruption of increased traffic.

The residents are worried connecting Dorfman and Fehler will prompt impatient drivers to speed through Dorfman to avoid stoplights on other streets.

Kenny O’Reilly lives in a one-story home in Hunter’s Ridge and is opposed to some proposed two-story homes.

“I’m the house right at the gate, so the property you proposed will be looking right down at my house,” said O’Reilly, also the father of three young boys. “All the houses will be looking straight into my backyard. There’ll be no privacy.”

When this issue came before the Cotati Design Review and Planning commissions, the original recommendation was for what was called the “No Dormfan Connection” plan, which would not have connected the streets. Design standards for new subdivisions in Cotati state that street layout, lots and blocks should be designed so neighborhoods will interconnect and avoid superblocks. But the plan didn’t meet certain standards in the Cotati Municipal Code.

The maximum block length of 500 feet is exceeded on both Fehler Lane (660-foot block length) and Jagle Street (560 feet straightaway plus 250 feet as the road curves to Valparaiso). Extending Dorfman to Fehler, which would have meant approving the amendment, would have brought it up to code.

The developers said their plans can be amended and that many of the suggestions from both the council and those in the audience who spoke can be done without changing the concept of the project.

“We’re open to any solution the neighborhood wants, but it has to be put in context of what city requirements are,” said Neil Rudolph, a spokesman for Colvin 100A LLC. “If you want to put speedbumps there, we’ll put speedbumps there. If you want to make roads thinner, we’ll make them thinner.”

The developers initially purchased the land back in 2002 and the original map was approved for 62 homes in October of 2009. But the economic downturn at the time put the brakes on the project.