Two landowners have proposed building the apartments on the north side of Valpico Road at the dead end of Glenbriar Drive, about 500 yards southeast of Phillips and his Ashley Park neighborhood. The landowners could receive the go-ahead to start building from the Tracy City Council at a Tuesday, Dec. 18, meeting.
The 184-unit Valpico Apartments and 60-unit MacDonald Apartments are planned for land previously designated for a shopping center west of the Rite Aid on Valpico Road and MacArthur Drive, according to city of Tracy planner Alan Bell.
He said the apartments should fit well in the area.
They qualify as infill development because they are surrounded by other residential areas, he said, and although they would stand three stories tall, only the top story or so would be visible from street level, as the building site dips as far as 15 feet below Valpico Road.
“We saw how well it fit in with other city general plan (goals),” Bell said. “From a land-use perspective, it seemed like one of the favorable characteristics of the site is there are very few single-family homes adjacent to the site. … It’s not right on top of them.”
A swath of vacant land will separate the apartments from Ashley Park. Even so, Phillips fears the development will increase traffic and decrease property values.
“I’m not saying you don’t need apartments and people don’t need places to live, but it matters where you put them,” said the 61-year-old Vietnam-era Army veteran.
The apartment complexes could pave the way, he said, for Glenbriar Drive to be extended north to DeBord Drive from its dead end at Valpico Road. A short spur named Stalsburg Drive that juts south from DeBord would be a natural connection point, Phillips said, to bring through traffic to the area.
“One of the nicest things about Ashley Park is it’s one way in and one way out,” Phillips said.
While the Valpico and MacArthur apartment plans don’t explicitly call for Glenbriar’s extension, Bell said Glenbriar could be built through to Stalsburg if the vacant land between the proposed apartments and Ashley Park were developed.
“It’s zoned for residential development, and it’s reasonable to imagine that someday residential development will occur on (that) property,” Bell said.
Phillips sees that possibility — and its impact on his neighborhood — as a foregone conclusion if the council approves the apartments.
“They’ve opened the door,” he said.
He and many neighbors were caught off guard by the project, which was given a preliminary stamp of approval Nov. 14 by the Tracy Planning Commission. Phillips said only a few people in Ashley Park received notices that the matter was going before the commission.
One of them was Gabriel Leal, who lives two blocks east of Phillips and just west of Strasburg Drive.
Leal, Phillips and several other Ashley Park residents attended the Nov. 14 planning commission meeting to protest the proposed apartments.
“What bothers me personally is most people weren’t notified,” Leal said. “I think most people are concerned, but they don’t know the impact (of the project).”
Phillips said it looked as though the city was not being open about the proposed development.
“I’m a citizen of this town, I have a voice, and I have a right to be informed about what’s going on,” Phillips said.
Bell confirmed that only a few people in the Ashley Park neighborhood were informed about the Nov. 14 meeting through a formal notice. While state law mandates that property owners within 300 feet of a project’s borders be warned about such a meeting, Bell said the city gave out more notice regarding the planning commission meeting than required.
The city is going even further regarding the upcoming City Council meeting — Bell said 718 addresses as far as 950 feet from the apartment project site were notified. Leal said he received one of those notices earlier this week.
“Transparency, getting the word out, is of primary importance to us for any project, but especially those that might generate public interest,” Bell said.
Eric Taylor, who owns the site of the Valpico Apartments, said the two complexes are designed as upper-end complexes with social spaces, a lap pool and large living spaces.
“It appeared that there was a strong need in Tracy … for more good-quality market rate apartments,” Taylor said. “That’s what we emphasized here, is looking for apartments that are more modern, that have more amenities.”
Phillips, however, said he expected developers and the city to look back in a few years and have second thoughts about the project.
“I think they’ve picked a bad site,” he said.
Though Phillips admits he would be less affected than Ashley Park residents who live closer to MacArthur and Stalsburg drives, he’s determined to stand up for his neighborhood.
“I’m not just in it for me,” he said. “I’m in it for the point of it, and for the people down the street.”
• Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or email@example.com.