Executives with a Concord-based developer contend the city of Martinez is stonewalling them in their efforts to settle a disagreement over requested additional drainage work at a new housing development — an impasse they say is halting further work.
This dispute involves part of a 26.9-acre parcel of land, the onetime Pine Meadow Golf Course south of state Highway 4. It’s the latest chapter for a parcel that has been in the news over the past six years for several reasons, most of them related to its prospective development.
Two DeNova officials, CEO Dave Sanson and Dana Tsubota, DeNova’s executive vice president and general counsel, took the unusual step Jan. 15 of speaking to the City Council during the open public comment period at the start of the meeting.
Tsubota said her company has been unable to land a spot on the council’s public agenda to address a disagreement over some drainage work the city is asking DeNova to do as part of building the “Traditions at the Meadow” housing tract.
“This is the only way we can communicate with the council at this juncture. You can’t resolve things if you don’t talk about it.”
At issue now, DeNova officials said, is a request by the city for further drainage work on the east side of the former golf course land, along Vine Hill Way. Tsubota told the council a previous plan had already been approved, and that the new work was not among the conditions of approval.
“We are not willing to redesign.”
“That puts us at a standstill.”
Added Ryan Hansen, a technical engineer working for DeNova on the Martinez development:
“Simply put, there’s nothing else we can do, from a technical standpoint, to respond to a condition that does not apply.”
With Mayor Rob Schroder absent from the Jan. 15 meeting, it was Vice Mayor Mark Ross who responded publicly to the DeNova comments.
“We hear you.”
“We want to get to a resolution on this, too. We want to see it come to a fruitful conclusion for all parties involved.”
Martinez City Manager Eric Figueroa said this week he couldn’t comment on the DeNova complaints or about the Traditions at the Meadow housing tract.
Tsubota this week did not answer follow-up questions.
The standoff centers on the onetime Pine Meadow Golf Course. But even before the last rounds were played there in April 2015, DeNova, the city and the land’s former owners had discussed a housing project for that site. The City Council voted in January 2015 to rezone the golf course land from open space/recreation uses to residential use, to make way for a 99-home project there. The course closed four months later.
A citizen group, the Friends of Pine Meadow, preferred the golf course remain undeveloped as “open space,” and collected petition signatures to force a public vote on the former golf course’s fate. Voters approved one of two competing land-use measures driven by the Pine Meadow battles in June 2018.
In April 2016, DeNova sued the Friends group, asserting the group was spreading lies about the housing project. The suit also called for the group to quit calling themselves the “Friends of Pine Meadow,” as members of that group fought plans supported by the longtime owners of Pine Meadow. The suit was dismissed the following September.
The Friends group sued the city in April 2017, challenging the Martinez council’s 4-1 vote the previous January to rezone the golf course land for residential use to accommodate a DeNova housing project. DeNova was listed on that lawsuit as a “real party in interest” standing to be affected by the lawsuit’s outcome.
Finally, in July 2019, the City of Martinez, Friends of Pine Meadow and DeNova Homes struck a settlement agreement for DeNova to build 65 houses (down from 98) on 12 of the 26.9 acres and set aside 9 acres for a public park. DeNova also agreed to ante up $1.5 million for improvements to Martinez’s parks system. The agreement also called for the Friends of Pine Meadow group to drop its lawsuit against the City of Martinez.
On Jan. 15, Sanson, Tsubota and Hansen told the City Council they need to meet with city officials to work out the drainage situation before any more work can happen.
Sanson told the council:
“We’ve done everything we can to comply with the settlement agreement.”
“We’ve all had to sacrifice.”