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In The News

2 lead charge against Cargill

Menlo Park council members take firm stance

By Jessica Bernstein-Wax and Shaun Bishop, Daily News, 10/16/09

Though Redwood City hasn’t even determined whether Cargill’s application to do a massive development east of Highway 101 is complete, some Menlo Park City Council members already have taken a firm stance against the proposal.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Menlo Park City Council will discuss introducing a resolution opposing the project, which calls for up to 12,000 homes on a 1,436-acre site adjacent to Bayfront Park.

“There is concern about the location, the traffic, the need for water,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, who has been working on a draft resolution with Council Member Kelly Fergusson. “We have Bayfront Park immediately adjoining it. Bay land is considered precious.”

In a joint e-mail sent to the council Oct. 11, Fergusson and Cohen said the project poses an environmental hazard to the San Francisco Bay, “a natural treasure that defines our region.

“We have determined that the project would impose significant harm on Menlo Park and the greater region, and believe it is important for Menlo Park to clearly and promptly communicate its position to Cargill/DMB, the city of Redwood City, as well as other local and regional organizations,” they wrote.

“The current Cargill/DMB development proposal seeks to reverse long-standing regional and local policies to protect the Bay and its wetlands,” they added in their draft resolution.

Arizona-based developer DMB Associates in May unveiled plans to develop 1 million square feet of commercial space, 50 sports fields, a 200acre park and 436 acres of restored wetlands on the site historically used for salt harvesting.

The plans have provoked fierce opposition from environmental groups who want the entire property restored to wetlands, even before Redwood City has begun studying the potential impacts of the proposal. A consultant for the city is in the process of ensuring the application is complete.

In a statement released Thursday, Cargill and DMB said they want to give Menlo Park council members a presentation on the project as well as a tour.

“We have spent three years working with Redwood City residents, community leaders and other regional stakeholders to understand what they would like to see happen at the Redwood City Saltworks site,” the companies said. “We encourage Menlo Park officials to participate in the Redwood City-led process so that the impacts, benefits, and all community perspectives will be fully evaluated.”

While Cargill would build the entire development in Redwood City, the privately held agricultural firm might need Menlo Park’s approval to link it to certain roads, Menlo Park City Attorney Bill McClure said Thursday.

“It’s a possibility that there might have to be some approvals within the city of Menlo Park if the property planned to connect to Haven Avenue or Marsh Road,” McClure said.

DMB’s proposal references “a new roadway connection at Marsh Road,” extending east-west across the site.

“It would serve as parallel capacity to the U.S. 101 from the Dumbarton Bridge to Whipple Avenue,” according to the May 2009 documents. “This would help relieve the segment of U.S. 101 that runs through the heart of Redwood City.”

The California Department of Transportation controls portions of many roads near the Bayfront Expressway, and McClure said he isn’t certain whether a connection to Marsh Road would fall on Menlo Park land.

A day before the city released Fergusson and Cohen’s draft resolution, four people had already expressed their support for it on the city council e-mail list.

“I encourage you to do everything possible to prevent further development of our shrinking Bay,” Portola Valley resident Mary Paine wrote the council. “Please vote no on the Cargill development, a vote that will have a tremendous impact. Menlo Park can be a leader in sensible development located appropriately.”

The council won’t vote on the resolution Tuesday but will consider whether to put it on the agenda for a future meeting, City Manager Glen Rojas said.


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