A bitterly contested, 315-unit apartment complex earmarked for a chunk of gravelly land at the nexus of Pleasant Hill Road and Deer Hill Road inched toward fruition Wednesday with a 5-2 vote of approval from the Lafayette Planning Commission.
The Terraces of Lafayette, a 22-acre project described in its initial phases as “train wreck architecture” by city officials, has emerged from the dust cloud of local controversy and heads to the Lafayette City Council for review, possibly more appeals, and – perhaps – final approval if pro-project factions get their way.
Depending on who in the city is asked, final approval of the Terraces will ensure more low-income housing and diversity in an area in desperate need of both – or it will add to already the city’s already critical problems with congestion and other issues associated with growth.
Yes – Commission Chair Kristina Sturm, Commissioner Gary Huisingh, Karen Maggio, Greg Mason, Anna Radonich.
No – Vice Chair Farschad Farzan and Commissioner Stephen LaBonge
Some commissioners casting yes votes said they did so reluctantly, citing worries about traffic and fire safety, explaining they felt bound by the state’s Housing Accountability Act (HAA) which takes away much of the local control previously used by cities when reviewing projects in the past.
Appeals to the City Council are a virtual certainty.
Prior to their decision, commissioners asked that the developer alter the design layout of the project and expand plans for mass transit service to the area.
First brought before the city in March 2011, the Terraces of Lafayette has inspired often bitter controversy from the start, sparking hearings, a lawsuit and a referendum – voters rejecting plans to build 44 single-family homes instead of apartments at the site in 2018.