By Michael Schmitz
I would like to give kudos to the Belmont City Council for preserving San Juan Canyon.
Tuesday night at the city council meeting (March 12), Mayor Wozniak and the city council members took a decisive step toward preservation of the beautiful San Juan Canyon.
Coralin Feierbach, long a champion of protecting open space in Belmont, was supported by all other members of the council in voting to sell only one lot on Bishop Road, on which 1-3 homes can be built on a combined two acres. The remaining acres will be a public easement. That means only 3 homes on the entire 38 acre Belmont purchase! Good job!
Warren Lieberman stayed up late to be a part of the solution-Skyping in his participation from a business convention on the East coast. He directed the staff to move forward with a proposal to deed the east side lots as open space. Watch for that at an upcoming meeting as the agenda item is prepared.
Dave Warden founded a sub-committee to find an appropriate realtor that will advertise and promote the sale of the lot. David Braunstein confirmed that deeding the land as open space ensured there would be public access. Community Development Director Carlos DeMelo did a good job putting three options together for the council, reflecting the various views from the Jan. 29 council meeting.
Although many of us were hoping that a solution with no new homes would be discussed, the first option was a supportable compromise. That is the option the council unanimously approved.
Having purchased 38 acres in 2009 with the intent to protect it, there remains the need to pay back the purchase loan. The decision last night was to put one lot on the open market through a realtor, rather than begin collaboration with a development agency.
The option adds contingencies about the number and scope of housing, limited to 3 houses on two acres. The Marsten lot will be sold only if the Bishop lot fails to recoup it loan balance. The decision last night will give Belmont the best opportunity to preserve the maximum acreage as open space.
City council members and staff have worked hard to find a solution. Each of the council members and some staff met with us separately at neighborhood meetings, and even conducted an open study session on January 29 to hear our ideas. Tuesday night they made it clear that they heard our voices.
Hurray for Belmont, and thank you, city council, for listening to the wishes of your constituents! I hope we can move quickly on the sale, and dedication of the remaining acres to open space. Bravo!