Marin IJ: Corte Madera considers proposal to build 16 townhouses on Casa Buena Drive

A proposed 16-unit development for Casa Buena Drive in Corte Madera is depicted in this rendering produced by William Hezmalhalch Architects and Campus Properties. (Courtesy of Campus Property Group)

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A plan to demolish two homes and outbuildings on Casa Buena Drive in favor of 16 new townhouses is headed to the Corte Madera Town Council for approval.

The Planning Commission voted 4-0 Thursday night, with Commissioner Peter Schwartz absent, to support the project at 1421 and 1425 Casa Buena Drive after hearing a presentation from the developer, Larkspur-based Campus Properties company. It's now up to the Town Council to determine whether the project is appropriate.

The 1.23-acre project site is currently home to two single-family homes, one of which is vacant and the other of which is being rented via a short-term lease. Miscellaneous out buildings also dot the property. Under the development plan, submitted by Campus Properties about a year ago, the existing buildings would be demolished and 16 attached townhouses would be built.

Michael Hooper, co-owner of Campus Properties, said the "Craftsman-style" homes are perfect for the small, constricted property.

"This is the perfect infill site," Hooper said. "We started out by talking to the neighbors. It ended up with many signing a petition to the town asking for approval."

If approved, two- and three-story townhouses with three and four bedroom floor plans would be built on the 53,690-square-foot site. Each home would be 1,200 to 2,000-square-feet in size. Four buildings of four townhouses each would be built in rows, with the homes accessed from a single driveway off of Casa Buena Drive. Twenty-eight covered parking places and four uncovered parking spots would be created. Twelve of the townhouses would have garages.

Adam Gardner, with William Hezmalhalch Architects, said the homes will feature green and brown building materials with porches, railings and bay windows.

"We've used a lot of different materials to help break up the mass," Gardner said.

A majority of the commissioners lauded the design and proposed building materials.

"I think the architecture and the design is one of the better approaches we've seen," said Planning Commissioner Peter Chase.

Planning Commissioner Dan McCadden agreed.

"I think the materials you've picked are quite nice," he said.

As part of the project, 26 of the 40 trees on the property would be removed. Fifteen of the 26 trees that would be removed have been identified as protected based on their trunk size. However, the plan proposes planting 80 to 84 new trees as part of the new construction.

Diane Henderson, a contract planner for the town, said the landscape plan is favorable.

"They have a very attractive landscape plan," Henderson said. "It's a nice mix of ground cover, trees and shrubs."

During public comment, residents said they are concerned about traffic and parking on Casa Buena Drive. Others said the project is too dense and the property should be left alone.

Adam Gardner from William Hezmalhalch Architects talks about building materials for a proposed 16-unit development on Casa Buena Drive in Corte Madera during a meeting with the town's planning commission on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Megan Hansen - Marin Independent Journal)

Jean Greenbaum said she is worried about street traffic.

"The more development you put on it, the more dangerous it's going to be. We've been asking for a sidewalk on this street for many, many years," Greenbaum said.

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Andrea Alvarez agreed. She said she walks her dog twice a day on the street.

"I have to constantly turn around to make sure a car isn't coming toward me. It's so dangerous on that road," Alvarez said.

Commissioners agreed with residents' concerns about traffic impacts and suggested the Town Council address the issue.

Hooper said he is glad the project is moving forward.

"The next step is to spend a lot of money on the working drawings and getting financing for the project," he said.

Follow Megan Hansen's blog at http://blogs.marinij.com/bureaucratsandbaking.