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November 8, 2005 > Patterson Ranch meeting update

Patterson Ranch meeting update

by Vidya Pradhan

On Oct. 26, representatives of the Patterson family met with the community for the fourth time this year to discuss the future of the area adjacent to Coyote Hills Regional Park. The objective of the meeting was to present a revised plan for the development of the area.

The Patterson ranch area comprises 439 acres of land surrounding the Coyote Hills Regional Park in northern Fremont. This is the last large open space in the city of Fremont. The land stretches to the east and west of Ardenwood Boulevard. As of now, the area is zoned as agricultural and agricultural flood plain, and is unavailable for residential development. The development planners for the Patterson family have approached the Fremont City Council to have it rezoned as residential land.

So far, plans to develop this area have met with stiff opposition, mainly from organizations intent on preserving the ecological buffer that the land provides to the Coyote Hills Regional Park. Planners from Frisbie Planning Co. met with both the community and city several times this year and have come up with a plan that attempts to incorporate many of the requests that these meetings brought forth.

Under the revised plan, about 200 acres of land would be donated to the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD). This land is currently under easement, which means it is already unavailable for development. However, the land still belongs to the Patterson family and this move would transfer ownership to EBRPD.

A total of 1,200 units would be built in this area, with the bulk of them (990) in the area to the east of Ardenwood Boulevard. In the area to the west, in addition to the 210 housing units, planners proposed an elementary school, a church, a nature center and park, a lake and a large sports complex. The flood plain problem would be resolved by raising the level of the land by fill. Details of the plan and maps will are available on www.pattersonranch.net.

Once the plan was presented, the floor was opened for questions and community input. Some of the issues brought up were whether the city would be able to provide adequate fire, police and postal services to the new community; would the traffic impact be a major impact on Dumbarton commuters; and whether it would make more sense to build communities around public transit lines. Other comments regarded liquefaction from building on the marshland (the planner assured the audience that there was no such hazard). The new lighting impact on the environment of the Regional Park (the planners intend to put low-level lighting to mitigate such an impact, also the sports fields would most likely not have night lighting) was also brought up as well as whether or not the school district would be able to support the additional schools given that the existing middle and high schools are already crowded.

Carin High of the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge made a plea to keep housing development away from the immediate vicinity of the Coyote Hills Regional Park. "The impact will be on a regionally used area. People come from all over the Bay Area to use this reserve. I hope the city of Fremont will realize that what they have here is unique within the southern end of the bay. It is not open space that can be recreated anywhere else. Its adjacency to the Coyote Hills habitats and the Alameda Creek make it very important."

Supporters of the proposed plan noted that the planners had taken into account several of the community's concerns while putting forward this plan. The number of housing units had been reduced while care was also taken that the majority of building units were on the east side of Ardenwood Boulevard. Earlier requests for a church and sports facilities were also incorporated. The additional burden on local schools was taken into consideration and a new school was built into the plans. It was also felt that the Patterson family should be compensated for their land. While the land has been zoned as agricultural, the negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem from farming and pesticides has prevented it from being used for this purpose. Over the years, the EBRPD has attempted to acquire some of the land but could not agree with the owners on its value.

The next step is for the planners to put forward an amendment of the General Plan to the Fremont city council. The council will then request an Environmental Impact Study, which is likely to take about a year. In the meantime, the council will meet with the public to garner additional input from the community.

 
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