MARTINEZ -- In a sign that the far East Contra Costa housing market is again starting to make waves, county supervisors gave the go-ahead this week for a large gated development on the western end of Discovery Bay that includes waterfront homes with docks.
Plans for Pantages Bay also call for construction of a new sheriff's marine patrol substation, 47 acres of bays and coves to provide water access for some of the homes, widening Kellogg Creek, 46 acres of open space and addition of a public trail.
"They've been working on it for a number of years. It's an expensive project, especially with all the levee and channel work, but I see it as a significant benefit for the community overall," County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay said.
Mark Armstrong, one of the partners with Pantages Bay LLC, noted at Tuesday's meeting that the 171 acre project links the waterfront homes of the eastern side of Discovery Bay and the town's more landlocked western area.
Before recommending approval, Piepho raised a couple questions that had come up with prior subdivisions about parking, mailbox placement and dust and noise controls while digging out bays.
That work should take about a year and a half and should be contained mostly to cut and fill of the dirt on site, Armstrong said. The project's approval conditions also spell out how they will keep the spread of dirt to a minimum.
"There may be some drilling noise, but it will be no different than regular construction," Armstrong said.
Discovery Bay has seen home production slowly pick up in the past six to eight months, but is now starting to see requests for large subdivision approvals, said Catherine Kutsuris, the county's director of conservation and development.
"It's a pretty substantial investment," Kutsuris said of the Pantages project. "I think this shows a turn in the far east county area. It's a development we haven't seen in a while."
Investing in approvals for an entire subdivision shows confidence that the market for home sales will still be active two to three years down the road, she said.
Adds Piepho: "It's definitely a harbinger of things to come. In the county in general, we're seeing (action from) more and more developments that were dormant for a number of years."
In fact, the county has hired two more engineers and three more planners the past few months to accommodate the increased workload, Kutsuris said.
Residents spoke in favor of the Pantages project at Tuesday's meeting.
Dave Ogden, who lives along Kellogg Creek, said the project is a "community asset" because it adds several safety measures on the water.
The new substation will allow the marine patrol to respond quicker in case of emergency than its current location on Lauritzen Yacht Harbor near the Antioch Bridge, county planners said.
"That will have a recreational benefit to everyone in the Delta community, especially those that come from all over to fish or water ski," Piepho said.
Expanding Kellogg Creek will also make it easier and safer for local boaters to navigate a key stretch of waterway near where the coves meet the Delta, and boaters can travel faster. The current width of the creek is 60 feet, which residents says causes a backup of boaters. Plans say that width will at least double.
It will also reduce silting, Piepho said.
With the approval, Patanges Bay now must work on more-complete design maps and other plans, permits from regulatory agencies and gain annexation for water and sewer service.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.