Here is a high level summary of where things stand. There are a lot of questions and rumors going around, so these are the facts – to the best of our knowledge – to hopefully help clear things up. Bottom line, there is no formal proposal from the developer, there is no current “in flight” effort to change any Fairfax ordinances, and development is very likely but there is the potential to preserve a good bit of the land, preserve public access to it, and influence the process every step of the way. Stay informed and involved but please verify what you hear before becoming alarmed! Thanks!
- There is no formal development proposal from the developer (Marshal Rothman) yet. He held a public workshop with the town to hear feedback and is in the process of coming up with a proposal that will satisfy many of the concerns while also being viable for his investors. He has said he would like to hold another workshop before presenting a formal proposal to the town.
- The “Wall Property” has 3 main areas that have the potential to be developed.
- An 84 acre large area that surrounds the Marinda Fire Road and extends up to the ridgeline by Oak Springs / border of Fairfax and San Anselmo. This is zoned UR-10 (Upland Residential with 1 house permitted every 10 acres). (8 potential houses)
- A small lot that borders Marinda Drive on one side and the 84 acre parcel uphill from it on the other. It is zoned RS-7.5, which allows 1 house for every 7500 square feet, like the other existing houses in Marinda Oaks. (1 potential house)
- A 16 acre parcel zoned as UR-10 that is accessible from the town maintained road at the end of upper Ridgeway and extends from there toward the hill behind St. Rita’s school (now Cascade Canyon school). (likely 1 potential house)
- There are a few options that are being considered.
- The developer is likely to pursue 1 house on the Marinda parcel and 1 house on the Ridgeway parcel. This would comply with current zoning and therefore has the least hurdles, so is likely the first action to be taken after the appropriate studies, applications, etc., are completed. It is not a ‘done deal’ but is most likely where things will start.
- For the 84 acre parcel, one option would involve ‘clustering’ houses to allow them to be closer to each other than the legally required 10 acres. The Fairfax General Plan states clustering as a generally preferred option for the town, as it can be used to allow for the preservation of more undeveloped land. For example, if the 8 houses on the 84 acres can be clustered into 20 acres total, the remaining 64 acres can be donated as a parcel to open space, as opposed to 8 lots owning 10 acres each leaving only 4 acres for open space. However, since this goes outside of the regular UR-10 zoning, it requires a ‘development agreement’ that would require an amendment to the Fairfax General Plan, which would require the same public process that any General Plan amendment would require. (in other words, it will not happen overnight and you will have a say in it)
- Another option would be to divide the 84 acres into eight 10-acre lots, then set aside the remaining 4 acres as open space to allow for public access from Marinda to the open space parcel beginning at the Fairfax-San Anselmo border. This 4 acres would likely be set aside for a public access trail near the current fire road. This scenario does not require a General Plan amendment and is therefore easier for the developer, but the Open Space parcel would be much smaller than in a ‘cluster’ scenario.
- There is currently no “in flight” effort on the part of Fairfax to change zoning or ridgeline ordinances. The only change that has been discussed is what is described above to create a ‘development agreement’ to allow clustering with the intention of creating more open space.
- In discussions with Mr. Rothman, we have suggested that the following be part of any agreement, and he has stated his willingness to try and provide them :
- Continued public access. We would like for neighbors to be able to continue to use the area for recreational purposes if possible via a trail. Given that the current fire road will likely become the paved road to access the houses, we propose that a separate wooded trail away from the road be created.
- Houses out of sight lines. To maintain the natural beauty of the area, all houses should be situated back from ridge lines and out of sight lines from below. Mr. Rothman has stated that he intends for the houses to be single story and less than 3500 square feet to help accomplish this.
- Stay low. Keep development below the stone spiral ‘spirit circle’ area, as low on the hill as possible.
- Pay attention to aesthetics. Houses should be designed to blend with the landscape and with aesthetics in mind.
- No matter what is proposed, there are studies that must be done (soil, landslide, erosion, trees, traffic and more will be considered) and a public process that will be undergone. There will be no action behind closed doors and none of this will happen overnight. Click here for a document from the town of Fairfax that details this process and the potential timeline.
The next steps will likely be another workshop / public forum when some of the above is resolved. Hopefully the information above helps provide some context in what is an important issue to everyone in this area.
We will try to provide more information as it is available. If you have info to share, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for staying informed!
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An excellent and accurate synopsis. I would add only that no matter which direction all privately owned land not within approved building envelops will be preserved from further development through a Conservation easement , deed restriction or other binding mechanism which will run with the land.
So much talk about the public and aesthetics, and so little talk about wildlife, climate change, and fire safety. The clustering sounds like a fire trap. The effect on wildlife is so much more important than human-pleasing aesthetics. And fire safety is so much more important than aesthetics. The priorities are worrisome.
Thanks Janet. Those are valid concerns, and fortunately no development will happen without the evaluations / studies required by the Town of Fairfax. Wildlife, trees, traffic, land stability, water, erosion, fire, etc. are all part of the process. The priorities mentioned above are not the only things being prioritized – they are the non-required ‘asks’ that we are hoping to include above and beyond meeting those minimum safety standards that would apply to any application for development in our town. Regarding fire trap concerns, be aware that the houses would be spaced much further apart than the current houses in Marinda Oaks – clustering just means they would be on less than 10 acres. The number of new houses would be in the single digits; Marinda Oaks currently has hundreds of houses, so this would be a small increase percentage wise. One way to make sure your specific concerns are heard is to contact a Town Council member directly to make sure it’s on their radar, and / or attend the relevant meetings. Thanks again.