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August 23, 2011 > Editorial: Try, try again

Editorial: Try, try again

While scanning the Planning Commission agenda for Thursday, August 25, my first reaction was... It's back! Dr. Goney Sanhu hopes that his third attempt will, indeed, be the charm to develop a cozy - just shy of 10,000 square foot - home nestled in a small depression of the jealously guarded hills of Fremont. Measure A, passed by voters in 1981 was followed by a more stringent Measure T in 2002.

Advocates of these measures have twice before thwarted Dr. Sandhu and Planning Commission approval which brushed aside several provisions of the aforementioned measures, declaring them insubstantial. In each case, Fremont's City Council upheld objections and asked for modifications to the doctor's plans.

Now, Dr. Sandhu is back with revised plans for a smaller house - the original was approximately 16,000 square feet - that slides just beneath constrained parcel requirements which allows a dwelling of 10,000 square feet or less. The slimmer, 9,976 square feet version is ready to challenge. The logic in favor is that this site is the best alternative of two building sites on the 80-acre lot, that some provisions such as not crossing a slope of 30% or greater simply cannot be satisfied, and construction within a graded "saddle" between two knolls will hide much of the structure from those below. Once again, Planning Commission is poised to approve and City Council may, once again, be asked to consider opposition.

Erection of "story poles" at the site is expected to alleviate fears of corruption of pastoral views by residents living in the flatlands but the question remains - what do those poles actually represent? Also, what is the effect of lighting when darkness falls? What will be visible then? How will this look to the rest of us?

I have no quarrel with those that purchase large tracts of land and elect to build mansions but I wonder about the balance between people with such vast resources and others who have twice voted to restrict hillside development. The Fremont Planning Commission will most likely again approve of Dr. Sandhu's plans; I wonder what actions will follow this time. Is this plan the best compromise? Who will speak for the hills?

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