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June 28, 2005 > Appeal filed to block Fremont Planning Commission ruling on Sandhu residence

Appeal filed to block Fremont Planning Commission ruling on Sandhu residence

Proponents and supporters of Measure T, the 2002 Hill Protection Initiative filed an appeal of the June 9, 2005 Fremont Planning Commission approval of a proposed single family residence for Dr. Goney Sandhu (PLN2005-00058). The application was approved over a staff recommendation to deny it at a meeting on May 28 but, according to the Appeal, "was continued for two weeks so that appropriate findings and conditions could be prepared to support the commission action."

The Appeal, filed June 17, 2005, goes on to state that revisions were made that were not part of the published agenda giving no opportunity for public review. It says that because of these revisions, "We are still not sure what project was approved. There is no grading plan, no fire department position on access and water, no staff analysis of the adequacy of the access road and no clear understanding of the water tank situation." Although some concerns may have been addressed by the modified plan, appellants note "we cannot be sure."

Sympathy for the plight of Dr. Sandhu, who has been seeking approval of his plans for over a year, is expressed in the Appeal, but delays by the Planning Commission are cited as part of the problem. "The delay in implementation, caused primarily by the Commission action to seek peer review, coupled with staff delays leading to that point, have caused this untenable position." It adds, "The initiative, which should have been implemented in a year, has taken 2 1/2 years to date with no end in sight." Dr. Sandhu's credentials as a physician and his lengthy struggle to receive direction are admitted but the Appeal states, "This is a planning matter, a matter that transcends personalities or abilities."

Measure T is, according to the Appeal, "not an idea or concept. It is not a narrowly held set of restrictions or impediments to development. It is not the property of the proponents. It is, rather, a specifically written set of restrictions on development in the Hill Area. It is the law of the City of Fremont which cannot be changed without placing it before the voters at an election."

Grounds for the Appeal are 1) Access across a slope of 30% or greater; 2) Development prohibited on hilltops; 3) Visibility from public places; 4) Three water tanks at the 410 feet elevation level; 5) Grading and impermeable surface; 6) Retaining walls; 7) Environmental Review.

The Appeal, if upheld, recommends several alternatives. Dr Sandhu could "proceed with a modified design after the City Council determines implementation actions for Measure T" or he could "accept, as staff has recommended, that there is no way to build on this parcel without violating Measure T and invoke the 'savings' clause for a single 10,000 square foot home in the least intrusive available site." It also notes that "council might consider simply returning this matter to the Planning Commission for reconsideration after council action on Measure T implementation is complete."

The Appeal was filed by:
Proponents of Measure T including James and Susan Gearhart, Richard Godfrey, Paul Knight, Lorna Jaynes, Larry Goodman and May Chen Mai.

Proponents of Measure A including Gus Morrison, Jean Holmes, Donna Olsen and Judy Zlatnik

League of Women Voters, Fremont, Newark and Union City; Miriam Keller, President

Tri-City Ecology Center; Gus Morrison, At Large Board Member

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