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Subdivision development plan back to city
September 10, 2012, 05:00 AM Daily Journal Staff Report
The controversial plan for a nine-home subdivision on Finger Avenue in Redwood City is coming back for environmental approval after more than nine hours of mediation between the developer and neighbors who think selling some of the land may be an answer.

City staff is recommending the City Council approve the nine-lot proposal after moving the houses on three parcels away from the street and the top of the creek bank. Meanwhile, both sides agreed to work on an acquisition deal.

The City Council will consider the recommendation and possible alternatives at a reopened public hearing Monday night. The previous hearing on July 9 ended with the council shelving a vote on the environmental impact report and ordering the two opposing sides to work on a solution with a third-party mediator.

The project, which was first proposed in 2006, has already been the subject of a lawsuit and stipulated judgment. The proposal calls for demolishing six existing homes at 50, 80 and 88 Finger Ave. and replacing them with nine houses and a U-shaped private road on the 1.69-acre site

The Friends of Cordilleras Creek and Finger Avenue Pride Committee sued the city over the initial environmental review and the city settled by sending the plan back to the drawing board with direction to specifically look at aesthetics, cultural resources, traffic safety, parking and overall neighborhood compatibility. The new plan brought forward in July called for a 25-foot creek setback to meet the city’s adopted storm water control ordinance and ease concerns raised in the lawsuit about runoff and erosion. The blueprint also called for no size increases in four of the lots, no decrease in front yard setbacks for those lots’ garages and no tree removals other than the 10 already proposed.

When the City Council pushed for mediation, developer Kirk McGowan suggested the judgment was already the solution but agreed to try. The first discussion lasted seven hours and ended with the two factions still at loggerheads. A second two-and-a-half hour meeting found agreement on four elements: setting the houses back 25 feet from the top of the creek where possible; modify the setback of two houses to resemble that of adjoining houses, select experts to protect the native trees and other biological resources; and, come to an agreement with the developer on a purchase price and process for sale of some lots to neighborhood residents as undeveloped lots.

The Redwood City Council meets 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Ave., Redwood City.

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