Church Proposes Reduced Land Use in Revised Impact Report - Mountain News : News

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Church Proposes Reduced Land Use in Revised Impact Report

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Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019 9:00 am

The Church of the Wood’s project, proposed for a site at the intersection between State Highway 18 and Daley Canyon Road, has been reduced in size to address concerns raised when the church originally introduced its vision for a campus development to be used by its congregation and by the public as well. The changes are described in the church’s Draft Revised Environmental Impact Report (DREIR).

The campus development is now described as a two-story building consisting of a gymnatorium, an assembly building/children’s ministry, and a two-story building that would serve as a maintenance building, caretaker residence and lavatory facilities.

A sports field and sports courts round out the church’s project.

Landscape, Recreation

The project site would include a total of 182,960 square feet of landscaped areas and 66,133 square feet of landscaped manufactured slopes. Landscaped areas and pedestrian pathways are highlighted in the project’s DREIR, along with internal circulation roadways, driveways, and parking areas.

Approximately 50 percent of the project site (totaling 13.5 acres or 588,937 sq. ft.) would remain as natural open space, according to the DREIR.

Patrick Hopkins, a contractor and consultant for the project, said the building footprint is only 4 percent of the project.

“It’s a very small footprint,” Hopkins said. “Parking takes up a lot of the land along with the baseball field, which can also be used as a soccer field.”

Hopkins added that there will be no lighting on field, so it will not be used at night time.

Land Use

The project site is currently undeveloped and vacant and is characterized by gently rolling hills to steep mountain terrain primarily covered by montane coniferous forest, according to the DREIR. The final project site will total 13.5 acres, but it will be necessary to disturb approximately 16.9 acres as a result of grading.

A previous Engineering Geology and Soils Engineering Investigation performed at the project site in 2001 identified the site as being underlain by granitic bedrock overlain by a thick layer of colluvial and topsoil materials. In the central portion of the project site, the depth of colluvium was observed to thicken with units of older alluvium overlying the bedrock. Exposed bedrock exists along the western edge of the site. The majority of the project site is covered by a thick layer of organic topsoil.

“It’s obvious if you look at the site plan, which includes the fields, that you have to remove trees to construct the buildings and sports fields,” Hopkins said. “But we will replace landscaping that we take out with nice landscaping that will all be native to the area,”

The Audubon Society submitted its analysis to the county, stating, “The Land Use section of the DREIR fails to give sufficient consideration to the fact that the project is bordered on three sides by undeveloped National Forest land rather than just one side on the north, which the DREIR misleadingly implies by this omission.”

Audubon said the DREIR has not sufficiently taken into account the presence of southern rubber boa habitat and the Strawberry Creek Wildlife Corridor, and that the DREIR fails to acknowledge the project’s significant inconsistencies with the relevant County Plan policy.

Audubon’s letter noted that the DREIR omits a critical piece of evidence that does not support its claim. “Although it is noted that nearly 50 percent of the site will theoretically remain as open space, much of that is in the interior of the site flanking a riparian corridor. It is not divulged in the context of this policy that the remaining 50 percent of the site will be thoroughly flattened by massive landscape alteration that eliminates every native feature and natural contour of the area.

“The site is also part of a county-designated major wildlife corridor. The Mountain Open Space policy mandates that these open space corridors not only be preserved but also improved. The project makes no allowance for improving the corridor or even preserving it.”

Dr. Hugh Bialecki, president of the Save Our Mountain Association, pointed out at the Municipal Advisory Council meeting on March 7 that 90 percent of riparian areas on the mountain have been destroyed already. “This is a rare riparian area left on the mountain,” Bialecki said.

In addition, Bialecki said the proposed project is in a high fire area. “Intense urban use and steep slopes without adequate egress in an emergency would be contrary to the County Plan.”

Audubon added that these land use factors reveal that the design and siting of the project will not be compatible with adjacent National Forest land uses (such as the existing wildlife corridor) or community character, which the local community plan emphasizes is based on the natural environment.

Heidi Fron can be reached at hfron@mountain-news.com.

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