West Windsor residents opposed to development plans for a 50-acre piece of land near their homes asked the Town Council last week to oppose any project there that doesn't fit with county zoning guidelines.
The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians is considering a 50-unit housing development for the area, which is just outside Windsor town limits on Windsor River Road, east of Starr Road. No official development plans have been filed with the county or federal government, but neighbors say 50 units are too many because the county's general plan calls for one home per five acres on the site.
In January, at the request of neighbors and the council, Mayor Sam Salmon sent a letter to county supervisors, asking the county to abide by its general plan when considering development on the outskirts of Windsor limits.
The Board of Supervisors' passed a resolution in June urging the Lytton Band to work with the county to make sure any development for the area "is consistent with the general plan."
At last week's council meeting, neighbors asked the council to make a stronger statement in opposition to development on the property. Opponents brought forward a draft resolution for the council to consider, saying the town would oppose any development on the property that does not fit with the county general plan as well as fire, building and health codes.
"We are opposed to any development that does not follow the general plan," said William McCormick, representing property owners on Windsor River Road. "Simply stating that you wouldn't like to see any changes, to our group, is not strong enough," he told the council.
Debby Bailey, a Windsor River Road resident, said she has no objection if the tribe sticks to the county general plan and only builds one unit per five acres.
She said she is concerned that the tribe, in a 1999 request that the bureau of Indians Affairs hold the land in trust, indicated a need for up to 97 housing units in the future.
If those units are built on the property, "This is a ten-fold increase in the amount of housing currently allowed, and such development cannot be supported by that property without extremely negative impacts" to the town and surrounding neighbors, she said.
Tony Cohen, the attorney for the Lytton Band, cautioned the council that no plans have been filed for the property.
"There is no application" and the tribe doesn't currently have the money to begin preliminary studies of the property,” he said. He asked the council to hold off on passing a proposed resolution, saying it contained inaccuracies about the housing being considered for the property. "These will not be tract houses and they will not be rentals," he said. The resolution "is simply wrong," he said.
Cohen asked the council to develop a positive relationship with the Lytton band. "This is an opportunity for the town to begin a dialogue with the tribe," he said. "Absent a dialogue, I believe there will be a poor relationship."
Council member Debora Fudge said she doesn't think a relationship between the tribe and the town exists currently. "The relationship isn't there right now," she said. "I don't see us passing a resolution as harming it."
Council member Lynn Morehouse said she is concerned about differing reports of the number of homes for the property. "The number is a moving target," she said. "That's a concern for me, and it's a concern for other people."
"I think we as a council are clear that we're not happy about this going on outside our boundaries,” said Council member Steve Allen. Allen said he supported the council's passing a modified resolution at a future meeting.