• Enough signatures collected to put MST project on the June, 2012 ballot

    Upset about the Monterey County Board of Supervisors’ decision approving Monterey-Salinas Transit’s Whispering Oaks Project for a transportation terminal, a loose coalition of organizations has collected more than 18,000 signatures in an effort to overturn the decision and place the question on the June, 2012 ballot. Only 10,100 valid signatures are needed. The Monterey County Elections Department has 30 days in which to validate the signatures which were collected by citizens representing LandWatch, the Fort Ord Recreational Users, Sustainable Marina, Sustainable Seaside and others, including many individuals from Pacific Grove who collected signatures in front of the post office.

    “This amazing effort underscores the public’s outcry against this poorly conceived and environmentally detrimental project,” said LandWatch’s Amy White in a letter to supports.

    The City of Marina also opposed the project, pointing out that it has a “shovel-ready” site which would be preferable to the Whispering Oaks site, in its view.

    The Whispering Oaks site would have called for the destruction of some 3400 old oak trees as well as bridle paths and other recreational sites.

    But the Board of Supervisors, with only Supervisor Jane Parker dissenting, voted July 12 to approve the project (see Cedar Street Times Vol. III Issue. July 15, 2011), paving the way for MST to complete its efforts to obtain federal funding for the project.

    LandWatch filed an appeal to the fort Ord Reuse Authority (for a) on a number of points, including: 1) Monterey County does not have development review authority within Fort Ord. 2) The County’s Fort Ord Master Plan is inconsistent with FORA’s Fort Ord Reuse Plan. 3) The Project is inconsistent with the Fort Ord Master Plan provisions, policies, and programs requiring a trail/open link connecting the coast to the BLM open space lands. 4. The Project entitlements, including the Heavy Commercial zoning and General Development Plans, permit a development density in excess of the density permitted by the Fort Ord Reuse Plan. 5) As the draft EIR admits, the Project is not consistent with Commercial Land Use Objective D or the objectives of the Planned Development Mixed Use land use designation. That objective was intended to support development of pedestrian-oriented community centers and a variety of commercial, residential, retail, professional services, and cultural and entertainment activities.

    The City of Marina and FORU also objected to the Project based on the County’s failure to comply with CEQA, inconsistency with the County’s General Plan oak tree mitigation requirements, and inconsistency with the County’s use permit requirements for tree removals.

    LandWatch also pointed out that there were issues with water supply impacts under CEQA.

    In addition, LandWatch has filed a lawsuit (Aug. 5) challenging approval.

    The Board of Supervisors could now vote to rescind the approval or could send it to the voters, once the signatures are validated. “Rescinding it could be a good thing,” said White, but she fears that without further legal action they could turn right around and use the land for another project. She said her organization prefers to see a referendum on the rezoning of the property, though she is personally “cautiously optimistic” that the supervisors could “do the right thing.”

     

     

    posted to Cedar Street Times on August 19, 2011

    Topics: Current Edition, Front PG News, Marge Ann Jameson

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