WATERFORD -- Lake Pointe, a 1,600-home community, promises to be the largest development in the city's history.
The City Council started the process of approving the development Thursday night when three of four members in attendance approved annexing 425 acres east of the city. Homes will be built on 364 acres; the rest will be parks, open space, a church and commercial development.
Mayor William Broderick-Villa voted against the project, saying the plan needs work to convince him that it would benefit the city.
Councilman Jose Aldaco was absent.
Construction should start in about two years, said Barry O'Regan, director of forward planning for The Grupe Co., the developer that built the River Pointe development in Waterford. By 2025, 1,600 homes could stand where orchards now hug the city's eastern edge.
Before Grupe can start building, developers have to establish fees and other agreements with the city. The land annexation also must be approved by the county's Local Agency Formation Commission.
O'Regan said he hopes the real estate market turns around before the company and city have worked everything out and Grupe is clear to level the orchards and replace them with single-family homes.
Grupe representatives and city staff who have been working on the project for almost four years stressed that it's a lengthy project and Thursday night's vote doesn't mean anyone can build anything yet, said O'Regan and City Administrator Chuck Deschenes.
Their statements did not comfort Pattie Hulst, one of two Waterford residents to speak against the plan Thursday night. Hulst, who lives a stone's throw from the planned development, said those behind the project want residents to believe it will benefit the entire town.
"It seems to me, it will benefit those doing the building," she said.
Councilman Jim Weaver wanted to know more about those benefits. Without explain- ing the costs to the city, O'Regan said the city will see an extra $800,000 a year in property taxes and other fees, $3 million for parks, $17 million worth of infra- structure such as water and sewer pipes, and a greater likeli- hood of attracting businesses.
"It's going to move Waterford forward," Weaver concluded.
Councilman Charlie Goeken said he opposed the project when he first heard of it before being elected to the City Council. Now he said he thinks fees associated with the project will help the city get improvements it needs.
"I want to see a pool. I want to see a skate park," he said.
Residents Charles Turner and Lilia Navarretz agreed, reasoning more people will bring more opportunity to Waterford.
Broderick-Villa wasn't convinced. He said Waterford residents want better roads and parks, not 1,600 homes.
"There are certain things we need to think out more carefully," he said.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at 578-2382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.