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Woodside gives go-ahead to Moore Road subdivision

The Woodside Town Council has given a green light to a subdivision of the 21.7 acres at 389 Moore Road into three residential lots.

The May 27 decision was an appeal to the council by property owner Ben De Somma of a February decision by the Planning Commission denying the subdivision. A resolution that includes late changes that accompany the council's unanimous approval is likely for its June 10 meeting.

The property sits along the northbound lanes of Interstate 280 just south of the Woodside Road interchange. To the east is Moore Road and the Bear Gulch Reservoir. Mr. De Somma's proposal creates lots of roughly 6, 8 and 7 acres parcels A, B and C, respectively. All three lots are under 10 acres, which prevents further subdivision.

The improvements for Parcel A, the only lot for which development is planned, are still conceptual but include a two-story residence, a pool, a tennis court and equestrian facilities. Concerning parcels B and C, the council fixed the route for a shared driveway and will require fixed demarcated envelopes of land where construction may take place.

The council chose to constrain parcels B and C in this way in recognition of environmental concerns that are unlikely to change, including sloping land with soil stability issues, riparian and seasonal drainage areas, the presence of the above-ground warrens of the threatened dusky-footed wood rat, and significant setbacks from I-280, a scenic corridor.

The property is zoned SCP -- a special conservation planning district, which the municipal code describes as land with characteristics such as steep slopes, geological hazards, difficult road access, and soil or water problems. Nearby properties have similar characteristics in terms of size and limitations, a point noted by Mr. De Somma's architect Carter Warr, principal of CJW Architecture in Portola Valley.

The Planning Commission cited conceptual conflicts with the town's general plan in denying the subdivision, according to the staff report. The council saw these same issues as resolvable through modifications, such as adjusting and actually fixing the location of the building envelope on Parcel C, combining the driveways for B and C, and providing more details on grading, including for fire truck turnarounds.

The locations of building envelopes will be a collaborative effort by town staff and the applicant, Planning Director Jackie Young said. Development of the lots will not require additional environmental studies, staff said.

The Planning Commission did consider a two-lot subdivision, but the possibility of creating two 10-acre lots that could legally be further subdivided scuttled the idea, staff said.

Warm reception

Council members welcomed revisions by Mr. De Somma and Mr. Warr.

"In general, I think they've done a great job in fixing our (concerns) from last time," Councilman Peter Mason said.

"I appreciate the work that they have done and that they were responsive to the council and to Woodside residents in general," Councilwoman Deborah Gordon said.

Councilman Dave Tanner called the revisions "a great improvement."

Mayor Dave Burow said he'd "like to thank the applicant for thoughtfully responding to our concerns."

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