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School expansion vote delayed again
October 04, 2012, 05:00 AM Daily Journal staff report

Crystal Springs Uplands School officials will have to wait a couple more weeks to learn whether they will be able to build a new middle school in Belmont.

The Belmont City Council listened for hours at its Sept. 11 meeting as to why it should or should not allow the private school to expand on property currently occupied by a vacant office building in the hills on Davis Drive.

Traffic, noise, economic benefits and the environmental impacts related to the proposed project dominated talks at that meeting as the council heard from about 40 members of the public at the hearing, with many expressing opposition to it based on a problem the city already has — bad traffic conditions on Ralston Avenue.

Those in favor of the proposal said the school will be a boost to the local economy, attract other businesses to the city and that potential traffic problems have been overstated.

The council listened so long, however, it decided not to make a decision on the matter at that meeting but voted instead to table the public hearing until its Oct. 9 meeting, giving it another month to weigh the merits of the plan.

Yesterday, the city announced the agenda item was moved from this Tuesday’s meeting to the next City Council meeting Oct. 23.

The move was made because Mayor Dave Warden will be out of town on a business trip and school officials requested a continuance so all five council members can be a part of the decision.

The school wants to purchase a vacant office building on 6-8 and 10 Davis Drive, demolish it and build a new school campus with a turfed athletic field and one day a pool.

The plan has the full support of the Belmont Chamber of Commerce.

The project did not pass muster with the city’s Planning Commission, however, so the school decided to offer the city even more benefits for allowing it to move to Belmont, including a one-time $1 million payment and a $250,000 annual payment to the city since it is a nonprofit agency exempt from paying property taxes.

Currently, the vacant office buildings generate about $150,000 annually in property taxes, with the city and Belmont Fire Protection Agency getting about a third of it and other taxing agencies, such as local school districts, getting the rest.

The private school first came to the city with an early plan to relocate to Belmont in April 2011.

School officials said the City Council offered early support for the plan then and sent them on a path to purchase the Davis Drive property.

Crystal Springs Uplands is a private school which currently has a 10-acre suburban campus in Hillsborough serving 350 students in sixth through 12th grades. The school is hoping to expand by opening a middle school serving up to 240 students in sixth through eighth grades on Davis Drive.

Now, about 83,000 square feet of commercial/office and warehouse buildings and 165 parking spots are situated at 6-8 and 10 Davis Drive. CSUS wants to demolish the current buildings and construct a 52,000-square-foot middle school with a 60-space parking lot, gymnasium/theater/multi-purpose room and an all-weather synthetic turf playing field.


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