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November 11, 2009 > Why is the Masonic Homes Flatlands Project continuing apace?

Why is the Masonic Homes Flatlands Project continuing apace?

By Shavon Walker

Union City's Economic & Community Development Director Joan Malloy presented a procedural update to Council on October 27 to clarify the content of the planning application, explain why the city is reviewing the proposed project now, summarize the public review to date and present the tentative schedule for future public review and the city's action.

The planning application recommends the city approve the proposed General Plan Land Use map and text amendments, approve the proposed zoning map, approve a development agreement and certify the corresponding environmental impact report (EIR). Masonic Homes of California would also like a ballot measure placed on the November 2010 general municipal election ballot to remove the flatlands project site from the Hillside Area Plan boundaries.

Per the city review, Masonic Homes has applied for amendments to the Hillside Area Plan in the proper manner and, thus, has the legal right to have its application processed. They have given the voters knowledge concerning potential development. Additionally, they are gathering information for voters about environmental impacts in the form of the EIR. Information concerning the fiscal impact to the city is available, too. The project is not designed to cost the city any money but recommendations will be made through a fiscal impact analysis (FIA) to recoup costs if this becomes a problem.

The Hillside Area Plan is not a static document. Citizens are allowed to amend it through public debate and a vote. Given the next general election is in November 2010, Masonic Homes is attempting to get as much information to the public as possible to allow them to make an informed decision when they go to the polls.

There have been 11 public meetings to date to discuss the General Plan, zoning changes and the Hillside Area Plan amendment. Three joint City Council/Planning Commission public workshops, two Planning Commission study sessions, two City Council study sessions, one public scoping meeting, and three public open house events held by Masonic Homes have occurred within the last ten months.

Future Planning Commission and City Council meetings will focus on the EIR and the FIA. For the General Plan and zoning amendments to become effective, the Planning Commission will need to hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to the City Council on the proposed amendments. They will also need to hold another public hearing and certify the EIR.

After reviewing the EIR and FIA, the City Council will then need to decide if they wish to adopt a resolution calling for a consolidated election with the County and place the measure on the ballot. The City Clerk would then need to file for the election with the County by August 3, 2010. Lastly, and most importantly, the ballot measure would have to be approved by Union City voters. If so, the City Council must approve the proposed amendments and Development Agreement.

For more information, visit www.unioncity.org or contact Nancy Hutar on (510) 675-5318 or by email at mhflatlands@unioncity.org. Comments may be sent to the same email address or mailed to Nancy Hutar, Project Planner, Planning Division - City Hall, 34009 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City, California 94587. For more about the opposition to the Flatlands Project, visit www.saveunioncityhills.com

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