MH residents scrutinize downtown plans in weekend workshops
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Dec 13, 2013 | 3886 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mountain House downtown meeting
More than 150 Mountain House residents attended a second community meeting about goals for a future downtown district on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Bethany School. Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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MOUNTAIN HOUSE — Four downtown design concepts were proposed to Mountain House residents during a community workshop Saturday, Dec. 7, at Bethany School, and a design with a central plaza was favored by the majority.

“We like concept four the best,” said Rey Del Rosario of Wicklund Village, who attended the workshop with his wife, Lorraine. “I like the plaza is centrally located. You can see it from all four directions.”

The workshop was the second opportunity for residents to provide input into the design of the future Mountain House downtown district.

The first workshop, Oct. 19, was to identify the types of businesses and amenities residents wanted, and Saturday’s event was to narrow down the overall landscape and zoning design for the 150-acre site bordered by Byron Road, Mountain House Parkway, Main Street and Central Parkway.

Each of the four concepts included zoning for mixed use, commercial and high-density residential uses and a civic center with a future town hall, library, swim center and community theater.

The difference in the designs was primarily the placement of specific uses, particularly the central plaza surrounded by small shops and restaurants with a park and central fountain for social gatherings.

“We want to hear from you about what your thoughts are,” said Rob Reaugh, who was assisting the downtown designers from LDC and developer Shea Homes. “We want to make sure your vision, your thoughts are included.”

Among the more than 175 residents attending the workshop was Questa Village resident Colin Frank, who said he liked the collaboration that was encouraged by the developers.

“I like the process of gathering ideas,” Frank said. “We get to feel like we have some input. It’s constructive.”

Sitting at tables of 10, residents reviewed the four concept designs so they could identify what they liked and disliked about each. They were instructed to rank them and explain their

favorites.

Many residents said the biggest drawback of the first two concepts was the division of the downtown center that was created by De Anza Boulevard. A few said they didn’t want the downtown to be split by the roadway, which was not an issue in concepts three and four.

“It’s good they got rid of De Anza Boulevard,” Del Rosario said, pointing at concept four.

He suggested making the central fountain unique, recommending a windmill or waterwheel design, to draw people to Mountain House for a day of shopping.

Dave Pombo, a Mountain House resident and member of the Lammersville Unified School District board, said he too liked the fourth concept with a central center. He said parking would likely be an issue, but he favored parking on the outskirts of the center rather than on the main thoroughfare.

One woman said her table also favored concept four, explaining that it had a better “design flow,” while the others appeared “choppy” in their layout.

Dave Sargent, Mountain House community development manager for Shea Homes, said the developers planned to take all of the residents’ ideas to create a final downtown concept design that they would be revealed during a workshop in late January or early February.

“This process is to bring it to reality,” Sargent said.

Once residents sign off on a downtown design, he said, developers will present it to the Mountain House Community Services District Board of Directors and the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. If the plan meets with approval, the next step is to begin the development process.

He told the residents it could be three years before they saw any downtown buildings under construction.

At the end of the workshop, consultant Geoffrey Le Plastrier said he was encouraged by the residents’ contributions.

“I think it went extremely well,” he said. “The community input on the plans are very helpful for us. Hopefully we’ll get it 99 percent right.”

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

 
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