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NDNU to Keep 2005 Conditional Use Permit for Koret Field

The university announced its decision at a news conference this morning.

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."

Tommy Tee February 25, 2011 at 02:40 AM
I love the last sentence. They got their way--but it seems those complainers will never be satisfied!! I'm embarrassed to live in a town where a few crabby people prevail. They should move to a town where there are no children having fun.
Richard Rossi February 25, 2011 at 03:25 AM
I'm afraid I'd have to disagree with your assessment that the changes the Council made catered to both the university and the residents. The Council certainly catered to the residents and, at the last moment, made changes to accommodate a little more use by the sports groups. However, the changes the Council made in no way benefitted NDNU, quite the opposite. Their changes significantly reduced the university's ability to use its own field and imposed seriously burdensome administrative and reporting requirements.
Laura Dudnick (Editor) February 25, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Hi Richard, I understand your point and, taking that into consideration, I've changed that sentence to "attempted to cater" to both the residents and university. Thank you for your comment. Laura
Bill Bohlen February 25, 2011 at 05:33 AM
Way to go Belmont City Council! Another dismal failure!
Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 05:45 AM
Can I ask the dumb question here? Why is the City even interjecting itself into this issue in the first place? Instead of attempting to adjudicate the respective rights of the neighbors and the school in a vacuum (via the CUP), why not let the school and the neighbors hash it out in court over a nuissance lawsuit? That would force the *residents* to bear the costs of resolving this issue (instead of spreading it to all city residents; after all, how many meetings did the Council devote to this issue?). If the neighbors think that the noise from kids playing on the field is unbearable, they can sue in court to vindicate their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their property. Just sayin'...
Anonymous February 25, 2011 at 03:48 PM
I'm sure there are a few really good realtors who could help the neighbors solve their noise problem.
Steve Kelley February 25, 2011 at 05:44 PM
I think it is crazy that our elected officials have screwed this up so badly. This was a great opportunity to have a world class field for our children to use and a very small group of people ruined it for the majority Our elected official keep saying they are for letting the kids play but in reality they assembled a "solution" they knew would not work. After sitting in most of the public debate on this i think our mayor has let us down! Hopefully one day she will take a stand and do the right thing for the residents of Belmont! If not then let’s find someone who will.
Bill Bohlen February 25, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Everytime I see our Mayor quoted in the paper or on the patch she comes off as very childish. It's no wonder other cities, NDNU, and businesses don't like to deal with our town.
Howard Takenaka March 02, 2011 at 04:03 PM
I live across the street from Koret Field. Except for the goofy music that was played on Sunday mornings, the noise never bothered me. So I was wondering what all the broo ha ha was all about. Last night I was taking my dog, Aspen for a walk up Chula Vista and half way up hill I was amazed how loud and clear the noise from the field was. I could easily understand what the players were yelling. Now I understand. Another thing I don’t understand is if Notre Dame had the last word on the adopting the conditional use permit why weren’t they included in the discussions? Seems like a no brainer to me.
Anonymous March 02, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Presumably, the price these neighbors paid for their homes reflected the lower desirability of living next to a school and park. I don't see why they should be heard to complain now, when they knew full well what and where they were buying.
Dennis March 09, 2011 at 06:19 PM
I was at the meeting where the council came up witht he new hours and conditions. It was all done ad hoc, and I was a amazed that for an issue that has been debated this long, they had no plan already written up to discuss. They were just tossing out days and times off the cuff! It was a prime example of how incompetent this council can be, and one of those moments where I wish Donald Trump would have entered the chamber and said to all of them: "You're Fired!"
Dennis March 21, 2011 at 07:56 PM
I find it unbelievably galling how Feierbach can gut the updated PUC, making it impossible for NDNU to accept, then effectively blame them for turning it down and saying how it could "affect their relationship with the city"? How so, Coralin? This city - and you in particular - hs treated this university with disdain, contempt, and disrespect for years. So it's going to get worse now? People should be reminded that back in 2006, NDNU was wrapping up a party on the field at the agreed-upon time when a fussy neighbor called the police to make sure they shut it down. Apparently someone got on the phone to the then-mayor, who rushed to the scene, chastised and then ignored the student body president who tried to politely greet the official, and then called the college students "nuisances to Belmont". It is these kind of childish and clownish antics on the part of this council that has made Belmont infamous on the peninsula as the city you avoid when trying run any business, enterprise, or organization - including schools and colleges. Belmont continues to be an embarrassment to itself and the people who live here. Hopefully when Coralin finally retires, this city can at last be run in a dignified and professional way that is good for all of Belmont's citizens - not just the handful who are friends of the council.

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