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In The News

Belmont could oppose massive Cargill development

By Mike Rosenberg

San Mateo County Times, 1/10/10

BELMONT — A city known for taking stances to protect open space may go outside its borders to assail a major development proposed for the Cargill salt flats.

The Belmont City Council on Tuesday is slated to discuss whether it wants to oppose the massive Cargill development planned to the southeast in Redwood City. The project, which has yet to undergo environmental review, calls for up to 12,000 homes and 1 million square feet of office space on the 1,436-acre Bay lands owned by Cargill.

Belmont Vice Mayor Coralin Feierbach said several people asked her to put the item on the agenda. Feierbach said she wants to launch a discussion on how the project could affect Belmont, which abuts Redwood Shores, and whether city leaders should take a stand against it, likely through a yet-to-be-drafted resolution. But she wanted to hold her comments on the project until Tuesday's meeting.

It would not be out of character for Belmont officials to adopt a measure that protects open space from development.

The city recently spent $1.4 million to buy and preserve 34 acres of open space in San Juan Canyon, and it has passed voter-approved initiatives to restrict development in open spaces.

Last year, two council members pushed for a ballot measure that would require a public vote for any development on open spaces, but City Councilman Warren Lieberman was able to keep the initiative off the ballot. The two remaining council members lived too close to open spaces to vote on the measure.

Lieberman said he has yet to think in much depth about the Cargill project, since the details are so preliminary.

"But I do know that they have a number of hurdles to cross before it happens," he said.

"You're talking a small city, basically 20,000, 25,000 people," he said. "It remains to be seen how they're going to put something together that allows them to go forward."

Councilman Dave Warden said he also is curious about the project.

"I'm interested in anything that happens around the Bay — we all share the Bay — and I would like to know really both sides of the story," Warden said.

Belmont may not be the first city to oppose the project. Officials in Menlo Park, near the southern border of the salt flats, are already drafting a resolution decrying the development and could pass it as soon as later this month.

Menlo Park is closer to the development, though, Warden noted.

"I feel less inclined that we're directly affected," he said.

 

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