Sunday, February 22, 2009

Council approves stiff resolution on Seeno project application

After community comments from many citizens and long discussions and negotiations between Council members, the City Council voted unanimously on Feb. 17 to approve a revised resolution which rescinded their previous Nov. 18 denial of the Seeno project application and set many stiff requirements that must be adhered to in order for a new project plan to be developed and eventually approved. The resolution requirements, which will put the city and community in charge of the project visioning and planning process, include provisions such as a Project Manager, a Citizen's Oversight Committee, a community-based Specific Plan process, a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report, and a legally binding Development Agreement between the developer and the City. The costs associated with all of these provisions will be funded by the developer.

It also calls for a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the developer and the School District to ensure that the District's health and safety concerns relating to Semple School will be adequately addressed and protected, and to compensate the District for attorney fees that they incurred as they sought expert advice on how to protect their interests. This issue of the MOU with the School District was not resolved at the Feb. 17 Council meeting and negotiations are continuing, due to the fact that Mr. Seeno balked at paying more than twenty percent of the District's attorney fees.

Assuming that the School District and Mr. Seeno are able to arrive at a mutual agreement on an MOU, the next step will be for the City to initiate a public process for the selection of a Project Manager, and for the City Council to appoint a Citizen's Oversight Panel. The Oversight Panel and the Project Manager would then work together to interview and select a professional consulting firm which would conduct the community-based Specific Plan visioning process and the Subsequent EIR.

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