Construction to begin on subdivision next to former contaminated landfill

CHICO, Calif. - Given the troubles that homebuilders suffered through in the bursting of the real estate bubble, it's certainly news any time a large housing development is being built.

But the newest subdivision in Chico has some wondering about the location.

The Oak Valley development is going up near a 157-acre former landfill.  Closed in the 1960's, the Humboldt Road burn dump on Bruce Road near Highway 32 once tested positive for high levels of lead and cancer-causing chemicals.  

The city, county and property owners once used the site to burn household and commercial waste.  In the early 1990's, concern was raised about contamination, including lead and other toxins.

A clean-up project began in 2004 and ended in 2006. 

But that didn't stop the owner of the Oak Valley project.  Tom Fogarty has started construction on the 1,000 home development located in southeast Chico, near the foothills.

Many wonder if the land's history could be worrisome to some buyers.  Jim Moon said he would want more information.

"Well, I'd sure want to be sure they did all the proper engineering studies to make sure the flume isn't floating my way," said Moon.  "I assume there's safety built in with the water system built in from the City of Chico. But I'd sure want to be careful."

Frank Condon, a 30-year veteran in Chico real estate said there's a lot of interest in new construction and potential homeowners are looking forward to the project.  He expects it to sell out fast, despite its location next to the former landfill.

"To some buyers it may (raise concerns)," said Condon.  "The county and the state say they've gone through the mitigation process which should alleviate a lot of concerns."

Fogarty and the city reached a $9.5 million settlement over the contamination caused to his property.  Soon that property will see houses sprouting up on the vacant land.

The first phase of the new development will be 73 lots in size.  Right now crews are moving the first dirt to make way for the project.  Actual construction of the homes is expected to start early next year.

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