Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Study: Suisun City supercenter would affect traffic and wildlife

From Daily Republic // April 5, 2006
By Barry Eberling

SUISUN CITY - A major super shopping center and 359 homes at the Gentry property at Highway 12 and Cordelia Road could have some significant effects on traffic and a rare flower, a new study says.

Many, though not all, of the effects could be eased by doing such things as adding lanes and trying to avoid vernal pools. Traffic effects wouldn't be limited to Suisun City, but would extend into Fairfield. The developers would have to contend with such rare plants as the alkali milk-vetch, though the environmental report outlines ways this might be done.

Suisun City on Tuesday released the draft Gentry-Suisun environmental study by consultants Raney Planning & Management Inc. of West Sacramento.

Wal-Mart had talked of building a store at the site. But now, with Wal-Mart pulling out, it's unclear who, if anyone, would build a store that could be as large as three to four football fields.
Still, the environmental study looks at a Wal-Mart size store to study "the most aggressive impacts" possible from a development at the site, a city press release said.

A Wal-Mart-sized supercenter, along with townhouses and other homes on the southwest corner of Cordelia Road and Highway 12, could generate 14,500 to 21,000 trips a day, the study said. An auto coming to and leaving the property counts as two trips.

The project would have a significant and unavoidable effect on traffic at Texas Street/Pennsylvania Avenue in Fairfield, the study said. Traffic levels could increase from 17 percent to 27 percent there during the peak evening hour. There's not enough right-of-way to make the necessary improvements, the study said.

Potential significant traffic effects could happen at several other intersections. These are places where effective improvements could be made, but only if an agency such as Caltrans or the state Public Utilities Commission cooperates. That cooperation can't be assured, even if the developer pays for the improvements, the study said.

These intersections are Texas Street and Beck Avenue, Highway 12 and Beck Avenue, Highway 12 and Pennsylvania Avenue, Highway 12 and Sunset Avenue and Cordelia Road and Pennsylvania Avenue.

No matter what is built at the Gentry property, wildlife at the site will pose a challenge. The 171-acre site has wetlands and vernal pools. Both can be home to rare plants and creatures.
Alkali milk-vetch are present, the study said. This annual plant with purple flowers is a member of the pea family. It is a federal species of concern under the Endangered Species Act.

The plant could be preserved at nearby habitat, with the land protected from development. Still, the project would have a "significant and unavoidable" impact on the milk-vetch, the study said.
Contra Costa goldfield are present. The yellow-flowered, annual plant is a member of the sunflower family, the study said. About 20 to 30 plants were seen on the Gentry property in a 2000-2002 survey, the study said. It is a federally listed endangered species.

But the effects on the goldfield could be "less than significant," the study said. It proposed trying to establish new goldfield populations at other locations.

The project looks at other properties in the area besides the 171-acre Gentry site. Together, the study area totals 497 acres.

Mayor Jim Spering has said habitat could be preserved on other adjacent properties. These other properties have better habitat than the Gentry property, he said. The city is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the proposal, he said.

The city will be accepting public comment for 45 days before finalizing the report. Then the proposal will be brought to the planning commission and city council for approval in July. The draft environmental report can be seen at Suisun City Hall, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

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