After nearly two months of consideration, announced this morning it will not adopt the conditional use permit for Koret Field approved by the City Council in January.
NDNU President Judith Greig said at a news conference at Ralston Hall that the university "could not accept the revisions" the City Council implemented to the version approved by the Planning Commission last September.
The changes the council made attempted to cater to both the university and the residents who live nearby and say the noise on the sports field is unbearable, though NDNU spokesman Richard Rossi said after the January council meeting that the university wasn't satisfied with the council's version.
Among those modifications to the Planning Commission's CUP were shortened hours and a decrease in the number of Sundays the field can be used.
"The council's action not only strips the university of its vested rights in the use of Koret Field, it also imposes numerous restrictions and reporting requirements on us that would serve no purpose other than to supply a handful of local residents additional ammunition with which to continue their complaints," Greig said.
Though the 2005 conditional use permit does not allow youth sports groups to use Koret Field, Greig said the university is committed to finding a way for that rule to change.
"Both the Planning Commission and the City Council were unanimous in voting to include such access in an amended CUP," Greig said.
"The city has the authority to issue a special permit to Belmont's youth soccer groups to use the field," she continued. "If we are all in agreement, there should be absolutely no reason why the city would withhold such permission."
Mayor Coralin Feierbach said this afternoon that while she's "disappointed" with NDNU's decision to not adopt the conditional use permit, she supports allowing children to use Koret Field.
"I certainly would like the children to be able to play," Feierbach said. "The city attorney would need to look at whether they have to reissue a new CUP request."
Feierbach added that the City Council had worked hard to approve their version of the conditional use permit, and had listened to all sides for and against the revised conditions.
"The new CUP that NDNU turned down would have allowed school children from the Belmont-Redwood Shores area to use the field, would have cleared up several ambiguities dealing with time and use of permitted activities, and would have in most part satisfied the impacted neighbors," Feierbach said.
"The city has always regarded NDNU as an asset and a valuable resource," she added. "So the latest decision on their part may not help their relationship with the affected neighbors but also could affect future relationships of the city with NDNU."
Council member Warren Lieberman, who lives within 500 feet of NDNU and therefore couldn't participate in the council's discussions of the issue, said this afternoon that the university's offer to find a way to let youth sports groups use the field is generous.
"I hope the city finds a way to allow that to happen," Lieberman said. "I think NDNU's offer helps demonstrate how wonderful an asset the city has in its midst."
Resident Evelyn Seely, who lives near Koret Field, said that while she was surprised at NDNU's decision to keep its current permit, neither the current one or the council's solved the noise problem.
"The problem is the noise, and that’s never been adequately solved," she said. "I’m not quite sure how that could be solved."