SANTA CLARA — The Santa Clara City Council approved a new development Wednesday that would bring 250 residential units to the community, including 70 short-term rentals.
After about 2 1/2 hours of listening to the developer’s proposal, hearing from concerned community members and debating the plans, the City Council approved the plans for Solace, a development planned by Cole West Home. The 52-acre development will be located along North Town Road, east of the Bella Sol subdivision and north of the Harmons grocery store in Santa Clara.
Residential units will be located on either side of the Tuacahn Wash, with the northeastern corner reserved for the 70 town house-style rental units. The rest of the development will be made up of about 100 town house and 80 single-family homes. The plans will include trails on either side of the wash that will connect with other recreational trails in Santa Clara.
There were two ordinances for the development: one to approve the development’s plans and one to approve the short-term rentals on the property. Three of the council members voted in favor of both ordinances for the development while one, councilman Wendell Gubler, voted against them.
“I’m concerned about the possibly of more nightly rentals,” Gubler said before casting his votes. “I think we’ve gotten to the saturation point, especially in that area.”
Many community members who attended the City Council meeting to voice their opinions on Solace shared similar sentiments as Gubler. Some were worried about how the development would affect property values of other homes in the area or possibly hurt the small-town feel of Santa Clara.
“I didn’t come here to be dropped in the middle of a vacation-rental village,” Santa Clara resident Linda Price said.
Another concern for residents was about how the development would go into land previously designated as an open space. That open land was the reason that Santa Clara residents like Kami Mahan spent more money to buy homes in that area.
In her address to the City Council, Mahan said she wouldn’t have built her home backing the open land if she knew they were going to build a development there someday.
“We consider this more or less a bait and switch,” Mahan said. “Now, anyone on Bella Sol Drive who wants to sell their home will have to incur a significant financial loss, not even mentioning the emotional and personal loss to us.”
Several of the council members expressed how difficult it was for them to make a decision on Solace. While many of the concerns brought up by residents were valid, councilman Herb Basso said, it’s a misunderstanding for people to think areas designated as open space would never be developed.
“Pretty much all of Santa Clara was an open space zone until somebody said ‘Can we build a home here?'” Basso said. “People need to understand that just because there’s a lot that’s open next to you doesn’t mean it will always be an open space.”
The City Council approved the ordinances to allow the development to move forward, but they did have a condition that the developers make an effort to direct most of the heavy construction traffic through the main entrance on Rachel Drive and not through the secondary entrance on North Town Road to be less intrusive to residents.
Swiss Days parade rules
The City Council also reviewed the rule for the Swiss Days parade that prevented a political candidate from participating in the parade.
Daniel Holloway, a Libertarian from Ivins running for House District 74 this year, addressed the council about how he felt about the rule that stated “this parade may not be used as a forum for political promotion or campaign.”
Holloway’s opponent, incumbent Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, did participate in the parade with campaign signs, regardless of any rules on the books.
Holloway said he didn’t feel like anyone from Santa Clara explicitly attempted to exclude him from the parade, but he did say he thinks it’s important for public officials to consistently assess laws that are on the books to see if they are still valuable and enforceable.
“Difficult-to-enforce laws should be removed,” he said.
No action was taken, but the council promised the issue would be looked at before the next Swiss Days in 2019. Councilwoman Mary Jo Hafen apologized to Holloway over the confusion of the rule, and councilman Jarett White said he thought the rule should be revised or removed.
“I do agree the rule is very ambiguous and it should at least be rewritten if not struck down,” White said.
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