City staff said yes. But the Zoning Administrator said no to a development plan proposed by the son and daughter-in-law of the late state Senator John A. Nejedly. They want to subdivide the political patriarch's rural 13-acre property into four parcels for the construction of three new homes.
Going against the Zoning Administrator's "no," the Planning Commission staff is recommending that the Commission say "yes" to the plan at its meeting next Thursday. That is, if the project is "supportive" of the city's Hillside Performance Standards. These standards say that any new hillside development should minimize visual and environmental impacts. Nejedly's son and daughter-in-law, Jim and Jaine Nejedly, also are appealing the Zoning Administrator's March 31 rejection of their plan.
The grass- and oak-covered property is located just off Tice Valley Road. The couple maintained the property and helped keep the late senator there, rather than send him to a nursing home, up until his death in 2006 at age 91. A Planning Commission staff report says that the property currently has one home on a knoll. The home was where the late senator lived. The couple would like to keep the home there, and subdivide the remaining property into three parcels for three additional homes. The new parcels would be about one acre each.
But here's the conflict. Andrew Smith, the zoning administrator, believes that the proposed development is "inconsistent" with several policies in the General Plan, and that the property is essentially not suitable for this type and density of construction.
Here's a big rub, according to Smith. He says that the existing home actually consists of two residential units--not one. And, he says, based on a slope-density calculation contained in the city's zoning laws, this property should only have a total of four dwelling units. Jim and Jaine Nejedly want to build three new single-family homes. But Smith says that since there are already two existing residential dwellings, the three new single-family homes would bring the total number of residences to five. In his opinion, five residences on the property would be too many.
This isn't the first time there has been disagreement about this land, which is accessible by Monticello Drive. The land--which is not too far from my own home--was the subject of a bitter family dispute among Nejedly's three children after Nejedly's death.
On one side were Jim Nejedly and his sister, the Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho. On the other side was their older brother, John T. Nejedly, a Contra Costa Community College trustee who has recently declared his intent to run for county assessor against incumbent, Gus Kramer. Senator Nejedly purchased the property in 1951. In his trust, he sought to maintain the rural nature of the land; he also wanted to repay Jim and Jaine Nejedly for taking care of the estate as he was ailing.
This summer, the lawsuit over the estate came to a close with John T. Nejedly, deciding to drop his case.