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Environmental report released for Sylvan Corners housing project

A preliminary site map shows where 95 homes are proposed to be built at Sylvan Corners.

By Mike Hazlip—
A 250-page environmental report released last month found that a development proposal to build nearly one hundred homes at Sylvan Corners would have a “less than significant” impact, as long as various mitigation measures are taken.

The publicly available report by ECORP Consulting lists several areas of study with varying levels of impact. Most areas such as utilities and service systems are shown to have a “less than significant impact” without any mitigation efforts. A category titled “Biological resources” was found to have an impact called “less than significant with mitigation incorporated,” which includes requirements for a Tree Replacement Plan and a bat roost survey being conducted by a wildlife biologist prior to ground work.

Mitigation efforts to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety were also outlined in the report. Those measures included modifying the phasing of the signal light to reduce traffic backing up along Auburn Boulevard, adding signalized and channelized right turn lanes, and extending the southbound bike lane with green striping. The report also recommends the city monitor the intersection to discourage illegal U-turns from the southbound lanes of Auburn Boulevard.

According to an event posting on the city’s website, the public will have an opportunity to learn more and comment on the proposed development during an Aug. 22 meeting in the Community Room of City Hall. The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m.

Woodside Homes previously held a public meeting on Jan. 9 where the company presented details of the proposed development and took questions from residents and stakeholders. During that meeting, a spokesman for the developer described plans for 70 traditional single-family homes and 25 lots with an alley entrance to the garage. The 25 homes would face outward toward Auburn Boulevard in an effort to increase the curb appeal of the busy thoroughfare.

Plans on the city’s website show 81 homes would be market-rate, while 14 are shown as affordable units. It is unclear whether plans have changed since January.

The site was formerly home to Sylvan Middle School until it was demolished in 2016. The city subsequently purchased the 11.3-acre site from the San Juan Unified School District in 2019 for $3.4 million, hoping to quickly turn the property around and sell it to a preferred developer in order to have more say in what the future use would be.

The city’s plan took a hit in 2020 when the pandemic struck and only one offer was received from a developer during an offering period. Some council members expressed disappointment in the lackluster plans for more housing instead of mixed-use commercial, but voted 4-1 to sell the property to Woodside Homes for $4.17 million, pending a due diligence period.

As part of the due diligence process, Phase I and Phase II environmental reports were conducted by Woodside Homes, uncovering soil contamination associated with the former middle school.

The city excavated and disposed of more than 62 tons of contaminated soil, according to an email statement to The Sentinel by Economic and Community Engagement Director Meghan Huber. The contamination resulted from the use of pesticides and caulking at the school, and would have been safe for commercial development, but was just above the threshold for residential development, she said.

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