Some background on assisted living proposal process

By Keith Haydon on July 2, 2018

Haydon, Keith mayor for websiteThe recent proposal for a senior assisted living/memory care facility downtown generated interest – and some misunderstanding. Therefore, I want to clarify the city’s planning process regarding a private company’s proposal for that property and its current status.

The area under consideration is the large vacant lot between the Clayton Community Church property on Main Street and Clayton Road. The city purchased the parcel from a willing seller in April 2013, with the objective of assuming control of development.

It is the last large area to be developed in our historic downtown. Any development of the parcel must adhere to Clayton’s General Plan and, more specifically, the Town Center Specific Plan, which was established more than 15 years ago to protect the small-town nature and feel of the downtown.

Search begins

We acquired the land using economic development money from the Capital Improvement Budget, not all-purpose general funds. After the purchase, we initiated extensive commercial marketing efforts consistent with the Specific Plan’s concept of mixed retail, commercial and residential uses downtown.

We contacted numerous potential retailers and commercial developers, including Trader Joe’s. However, no retailer was interested in the construction and operation of a commercial building at that location – citing Clayton’s limited population base, its location and the existence of two shopping centers within a mile of downtown.

Due to this lack of interest, the City Council held two public meetings in spring 2015 to publicly consider other land use options. After receiving input from commercial developer brokers and the public, the council instructed its broker to solicit other possible mixed-use development proposals that would include limited retail commercial use. It was understood that any deviation from the Town Center Specific Plan would require plan or zoning amendments – including extensive public hearings and public input – before any City Council action.

Fulcrum considers site

After much effort to generate interest from potential developers, in November 2017 the City Council publicly and openly discussed, and then approved, an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with Fulcrum Development Group for its possible purchase of the parcel for a senior assisted living/memory care facility with some retail commercial space. The land was not placed into escrow for sale or purchase. Similar to an option on the property, the ENA prevented another developer from making a competing offer until Fulcrum completed its due diligence.

The city gave Fulcrum time to evaluate its opportunity and generate a Full Application to the city for extensive internal and public reviews, or withdraw its option. Fulcrum fully understood, affirmed by language in the ENA, that the City Council retained complete discretion to approve or deny any project, should Fulcrum eventually file its Full Application for development consideration.

Because the mixed-use nature of the proposal under consideration by Fulcrum differed from the Town Center Specific Plan, the City Council required Fulcrum to file a Pre-Application of its ideas with city staff for preliminary professional critique. The city also required Fulcrum to conduct as least two community meetings to assess community interest in its concept before filing a Full Application that would engage the development process of the city.

If Fulcrum decided to submit its Full Application, it would receive a thorough review and analysis by Clayton’s Community Development Department. All of that analysis, critique and environmental review would go to the Planning Commission to commence the noticed public hearings of the proposed project by both the Planning Commission and the City Council.

It is this latter public review process that resulted in members of the Planning Commission and City Council being prohibited from participating in the community meetings or public discussions until the proposal was formally presented to us, to avoid conflicts of due process.

Project withdrawn

After Fulcrum conducted its two community meetings in early April and late May and fully analyzed city staff’s initial critique, Fulcrum conducted its own internal reviews. Having “reexamined the viability of the project,” they decided not to submit a Full Application. On June 7, Fulcrum officially notified the city that it would not advance its proposed project and withdrew.

This project never went beyond the concept stage. A Full Application was not formally filed with the city, and the City Council never pre-approved the project or examined the proposal’s specific details.

If Fulcrum had submitted a Full Application, then and only then would it have triggered the usual extensive reviews and analyses by Clayton’s Community Development Department, the Planning Commission and, ultimately, the City Council.

Further, residents of Clayton would have had many opportunities to provide input regarding the proposed development through public hearings conducted by the Planning Commission and City Council before any final decision by the City Council to approve or deny the project.

I look forward to sharing more information with you about Clayton items and activities in coming months. See you out on the trails and, as always, feel free to send comments to me at khaydon@ci.clayton.ca.us.

Feel free to send comments to me at khaydon@ci.clayton.ca.us.

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