Pine Meadow developer claims damage for delays

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Traditions at the Meadow, LLC has been damaged by 210 days of delays and is asking for compensation of $2.8 million or more, according to a claim filed at the City of Martinez, November 13.

City Manager Eric Figueroa is recommending the city council reject the claim, which is item number four on the Consent Calendar for the December 4 council meeting.

There was a palpable sigh of relief throughout the city when years of contention over a housing development at the old Pine Meadow Golf Course on Vine Hill Way appeared to be resolved by a court approved legal settlement on July 10, 2019.

This seemingly innocuous item could revive the saga of false starts, contention and compromise dating back over a decade, according to Christine Coward Dean, one the Coward family heirs (previous owners) who lives next to the property.

“I can clearly say that DeNova went above and beyond to try to get the city to keep its agreement,” Dean said. “Now that the improvements have been removed, now we have different standards because it is undeveloped property.”

DeNova Homes is building the project and has already done some preliminary removal of trees and buildings in order to facilitate grading before winter rains.

Unless city building and planning departments issue permits to move forward with work on the project, it could signal further legal action as the developers only recourse, according to Dean.

She recalled the October 24 council meeting. “The whole council was saying, ‘Let’s all get going.’ The mayor offered to sit in a room and settle everything…Then Eric said, ‘I’ll do it,’” Dean said.

Based on remarks at more than two previous council meetings, there have been misunderstandings about details and fees, but both sides were willing to compromise to keep the project on track until the city required a new storm drainage plan and the city engineer (there have several during the process) was not satisfied. The grading cannot be done without an approved drainage plan.

There was drainage plan for 99 homes approved by retired City Engineer Tim Tucker, but the settlement agreement called for 65 homes. Apparently the new drainage plan with fewer homes, and the basic park plan may still not be agreed upon.

In response to the city’s agenda for November 20, Traditions Attorney Dana Tsubota sent the city a letter stating objections to a council vote on the formation of a Community Facilities District (Mello-Roos type) to help pay for public improvements until they had an approved final map. The final map cannot be approved without a drainage plan approval. That was removed the item from the November 20 agenda on the day of the meeting, and after the meeting, City Attorney Jeff Walter said he could not discuss the matter, other than to say the drainage plan is complicated, because of a potential lawsuit.

City officials were unavailable for comment due to the city’s Thanksgiving holiday break.

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