Tuscan Tussle

by DOUG NADVORNICK & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & H & lt;/span & omeowners who live above the site of a proposed condo project will make a plea to the city council Thursday to stop the project, to be built on the hill below the intersection of 57th Avenue and Hatch Road.

"We're very concerned about soil erosion and deep cuts into the hillside to be made below our homes," says Joe Delay, who lives in the Quail Ridge subdivision. Delay and his neighbors are appealing city Hearing Examiner Greg Smith's June decision to allow Yong Lewis' Tuscan Ridge development -- with up to 100 condominiums in as many as 30 buildings.

Councilmembers will hold a 2:30 pm special meeting in the council chambers to consider arguments from the two sides.

Quail Ridge attorney Stan Schwartz argues in briefs prepared for the hearing that the city should order more environmental review before it allows building on "a steep slope that generally ranges between 30 percent and 60 percent." He says a geotechnical report on the site, done by a consultant for the developer, makes clear the potential problems.

"Portions ... are very steep and surface soils are considered to be highly erodible," Schwartz quotes from the report. "Based on our analysis, the existing slope conditions are marginally stable and will require mitigation measures as recommended within this report to increase safety factors and develop the site within acceptable minimums."

"The conclusion from Tuscan Ridge's own expert is clear," concludes Schwartz. "The project presents the potential for significant environmental impact."

In his decision, the hearing examiner acknowledged the challenges involved in building on the hill, but says he's "convinced that the geotechnical engineering done for this site demonstrates the capability for safe development of this site." Smith imposed 35 conditions that the developer must satisfy before the city would authorize the final permits that allow the condos to be sold and people to move in.

Tuscan Ridge attorney Mike Murphy, in his brief to the council, cited those conditions "that covered transportation, storm water and a myriad of detailed items relating to steep slopes and geohazards," as proof that the city isn't simply rubber-stamping the project.

The council will take up to a half-hour of testimony from each side. No new testimony will be allowed.

Delay says the homeowners haven't decided whether they would they would take the case to court should the council rule against them.