CONCORD -- A strip of gravel on a small private court has become the latest sticking point in one neighborhood's fight against a Seeno company housing subdivision.
Residents of Gyger Court sued last month to stop the prominent developer from taking back a portion of the court by extending the project's property line to its original edge. Although the property owner owns the land, neighbors say they have used and maintained the easement for decades.
The project, they said, would narrow the court to the point where they could not park on the street, two cars could not pass at the same time and fire engines would not be able to enter.
The suit, filed on March 7 in Contra Costa Superior Court, lists property owner Sandra Zackaray and developer Jackie Seeno as defendants. Zackaray could not be reached for comment; Seeno refused to comment Monday.
Cyrus Land Investments LLC, a Seeno company, plans to build six homes at 4985 Olive Drive, a vacant property adjacent to Gyger Court.
A recent survey of the property revealed that Zackaray owns a 6-foot-wide, nearly 300-foot-long section of the roadway. Tentative plans for the housing development include fencing off that property, which would narrow the roadway to the 17-foot easement owned by residents of the court.
Kurt Leintz, one of the plaintiffs, said the plans came as a "shock" to homeowners. He said residents have used and maintained the entire easement since at least 1972, and many did not realize they did not own the 6-foot-wide section.
The residents must show they have continuously used the easement for at least five years and that the use has been clear and obvious and done without permission of the owner.
"We're not asking to own the land; we are asking to allow us to use it," said Leintz, who believes they have satisfied the criteria.
The project would likely be approved on condition that the suit be resolved. The suit could also prevent the developer from pulling building permits.
In its early stages, the project has drawn strong opposition from neighbors, who have accused Seeno of destroying an owl habitat. They also object to the size of the two-story homes on a street where one-story homes are the norm.
Seeno has agreed to revise the plans and is expected to present the revisions to the city's Design Review Board on April 11.
"I don't want to delay her project, that was never our intention," Leintz said. "We just don't want to lose our six feet."
David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.