riverwest investments

Knights Landing-Developers get public input on 800 acre project

June 16, 2006

By BEN ANTONIUS/Democrat Staff Writer
Daily Democrat

A developer considering an 800-acre project in Knights Landing heard from community members Wednesday night and said they would use the input to shape their plans.

River West Investments recently bought the Swanston Wallace Ranch southeast of town and has suggested turning the walnut orchards into a mix of homes, commercial development and open space.

Public opinion at the Knights Landing Advisory Board meeting appeared cautious toward the proposal, which has the potential to transform the community of 1,500 residents.

Spokesperson Wendy Hoyt told the crowd at the packed meeting that River West wanted to know what the community was looking for in future developments.

“We will have plenty of dialogue over the coming years,” she said. “We don’t have a project, we don’t have an application with the County of Yolo.”

Developers were quizzed by the crowd on the status of the land’s Williamson Act contracts - the contracts, which protect agricultural land from development, are still active but in the process of being canceled.

Residents also inquired about the number of houses that could be built on the land. Hoyt criticized press “speculation” in earlier articles about the land sale, which suggested 3,200 homes could fit onto an 800-acre site.

“There’s no way (River West owner) Brian Vail would ever, ever move forward with 3,200 homes,” she said. “But now that’s a number we have to dispute from now on.”

Advisory board member Warren King said he was categorically opposed to additional homes using the community sewer system until financial issues could be resolved with the county.

“Right now, we’re getting nothing,” he said. “Until we get this tax issue resolved, we do not want another home.”

Vail said at the meeting that the project would be pursued through the county’s general plan update process. It will not come out of Williamson Act contracts until 2015, although the Board of Supervisors has the authority to shortcut that.

Builder Castle Homes is also proposing another project - of 680 homes - on a neighboring parcel. Hoyt said River West will likely hold follow-up meetings in the summer or early fall.

- Reach Ben Antonius at 406-6233 or .