A deal has been reached to clear the way for construction to start on new homes in western Taft.
City planning Director Mike Waiczis said Wednesday that Occidental of Elk Hills and the developers of the Hillside Estates/Hillside Terrace Estates development have reached an agrement that will open up a 30-acre parcel for development.
The agreement means construction could start as early as this summer on model homes for the the proposed housing tract on the western edge of Taft
The new homes, first proposed in 2012, seemed to be sailing through the permitting process until a Jan. 15 Taft City Council meeting where a tentative tract map was on the agenda for approval.
Oxy stepped in and said they had not been properly notified of the development and they wanted to ensure they had adequate access to the mineral rights under the land.
That caused a quick closed door meeting and an agreement a week later that the city would not approve a final tract map unless Oxy was satisfied with the deal – effectively giving the oil company veto rights over the project, and triggering fears that the much-needed new development might never get built.
"The two parties have come on an amenable agreement for at least the first phase, which is 30 acres," Waiczis said.
That will clear the way to start model homes and construction of production homes.
Waiczis said its a good sign after more than two months of talks.
"I think it's going to happen," Waiczis said. "Hopefully Oxy and the developers will work out an agreement over the next year for the rest of the project."
When built out, the proposed project would add nearly 400 new homes on the west side of Hillard south of the current Parkview Estates development, but that could take years to complete.
The first phase on the 30 acres will hold about 125 homes, but far fewer homes will probably be built at first.