The pencils of the (CSUS) board of directors have been sharpened even further as the board urges the to approve its proposal to build a 47,000 square foot private, independent middle school campus on
In a newly issued development agreement submitted earlier this week to the city, the CSUS board of directors is offering a $1 million, one-time payment and an annual payment of $250,000 to offset the that would be paid to the city by a for-profit business on the site, 6 and 8-10 Davis Dr.
To view the Development Agreement document, click on the PDF file to the right of this article.
“We heard the about money so we’ve increased our annual payment offer from $175,000 to $250,000,” said Andrea Edwards, CSUS development director.
As a nonprofit organization, Crystal Springs Uplands School is tax-exempt; its offer of a $250,000 annual payment is to make up for lost tax revenue.
Edwards added that the revised amount should be enough to make up for tax revenues lost to the (BRSSD).
The city and Belmont Fire Protection District earn about $40,000 a year in property taxes currently from the vacant property. BRSSD and other taxing agencies get another $100,000 or so in property taxes from the property.
“This new agreement makes the project a ‘fiscal positive,’” said Edwards.
But says that there’s no amount of money that will make the project fly on the proposed site.
“Yes, it’s a good offer, but it’s not going to make any difference to me because the school site is in the wrong place. And if something is wrong, you can’t pay to fix it,” said Feierbach.
“This project will directly impact the surrounding neighborhoods and I put neighborhoods first,” she added.
Feierbach says that when it comes to voting on projects proposed by entities such as schools, it’s difficult for the council to be objective.
“We went through this with and ,” Feierbach said, referring to past projects that came before the council and were divisive to the city, the neighborhoods and the schools involved.
“The turned most of the the CSUS proposal down, and it was very difficult for them. We should have stopped this project a long time ago.”
“It takes so much energy and it’s always very controversial because schools, sports, churches--are sacrosanct. The council can deal with a business like or , but because we are dealing with schools---and children—it’s very difficult. I’m a grandparent and I know how hard it is.”
Feierbach said she would support CSUS’s move to Belmont but to a different location, such as to an area on the east side of Highway 101.
Other councilmembers either declined to comment on this proposal prior to the meeting, or were unavailable for comment.
The new agreement was devised following the of the Belmont Planning Commission, when the seven-member panel recommended that the city council not approve the development deal that would have guaranteed the city $175,000 annually, in addition to a $100,000 one-time payment.
The commission also did not recommend amending the city’s general plan and did not recommend changing the zoning laws to allow for institutional use on the property currently zoned for commercial.
Currently, the proposed site is comprised of approximately 83,000 square feet of commercial/office and warehouse buildings. The buildings, owned by Cengage Learning, have been vacant for several years. CSUS's proposal calls for the demolition of the current buildings and construction of the middle school with a gymnasium, theater, and multi-purpose room, parking lot,and an all-weather synthetic turf playing field. The development agreement allows the city use of the playing field on weekends and for three weeks each summer.
In addition to additional funding, the revised development agreement addressed the commission and residents’ concerns about noise, specifically the noise that would be associated with a swimming pool that the school plans to add in a year or so. Under the new agreement, a swimming pool would be completely enclosed, thus mitigating any noise concerns by residents.
, many of whom live in the neighborhoods surrounding the Davis Drive complex, have complained that the school would add too much traffic and bring too much noise to the hillside area off of Ralston Avenue.
Edwards said that there are detailed plans in place to mitigate any traffic issues caused by the 240 students and staff members arriving and departing the school each day.
“If certain things occur, we have an insurance bond that will handle things such as traffic spilling out of the turning lanes,” Edwards said.
Edwards says that CSUS school officials want the citizens of Belmont to know they look forward to being part of the community.
“This is a remarkable opportunity for CSUS to make an immediate positive impact on the Belmont,” Edwards said.
The Belmont City Council will hear the proposal and make a final determination on the project at it’s September 11 meeting.
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