Woodside OKs golf course rebuild
Loud cheering erupted in Woodside's Independence Hall on April 25 as exuberant members of the Menlo County Club heard Woodside's Planning Commission unanimously approve plans to rebuild their golf course.
Members of the club, home to Woodside's only golf course, had been working since November 2009 to get permission to redo the course. It will be reconfigured within its current footprint, a project that will involve removing 345 trees and eliminating a manmade pond.
So many attended the special meeting that even with most standing, some ended up outside in the rain, leaning in doorways to hear the proceedings.
Earlier plans to expand the golf course into an undeveloped area of the property were abandoned after it became clear the expansion would disturb a rare woodrat that nests near the golf course.
Club representatives said the rebuilding project will probably begin in April 2013 and will close the golf course for 15 months. They began working with the town on the project in late 2009.
"This is a project that has been thoroughly, thoroughly studied," said Mark Pitchford of Atherton, a Menlo Country Club member who has for the last two years headed the Golf Course Working Team.
The improvements in the course should make it viable for a long time to come, he said. "We have every intention of lasting another 100 years and more."
In addition to redesigning the golf course, the project will move two of the club's tennis courts closer to two other courts in the southwest area of the property and add a 640-square-foot tennis building with an office, restrooms and exercise area.
The country club is located across the street from Woodside High School, near the boundary of Woodside and Redwood City. It has about 290 members.
Only one person, Woodside Bicycle Committee member Bob Page, spoke against the project at the meeting, which was packed with country club members. Even Mr. Page had only one objection, the way the club's landscaping sometimes encroaches on Alameda de las Pulgas in an area with no bike lanes, forcing bicyclists into the traffic lanes.
In response to Mr. Page's comments, the club will be required to be more vigilant about keeping its plants trimmed back near Alameda.
The town did not require a full environmental impact report on the project, but instead prepared a report called a "mitigated negative declaration" because, Planning Director Jackie Young said, the environmental impacts of the project will be less than significant once the club meets conditions imposed by the town.
The club, which has been in Woodside long before the town was incorporated in 1956, purchased most of the 141-acre property in 1911. It made major changes in the golf course in the 1920s and the 1960s, and has been operating under a use permit granted in 1964.
The project involves approximately 180,000 cubic yards of grading, plus approximately 63,000 cubic yards of sand that will be put on the golf course to improve the soil and drainage. The club received a special exception from the town to do some of the grading near the creek, in a place where the golf course already exists.
The project does not need further approval from the Town Council unless the Planning Commission's decision is appealed.
The town did require the country club to agree to a number of conditions. To replace the larger trees that are being removed, the club will have to plant 219 new native trees and transplant 17 other large trees.
To protect the dusky-footed woodrat found on the site, which the state considers a "species of special concern," the club will build special fencing around the construction site to keep the woodrats from entering the construction area. The club is required to install landscape screening between the tennis courts and High Road homes and to come up with a plan for new fencing and landscaping along Woodside Road.
Trucks going to and from the site will be allowed to turn only right on and off the property and will not be allowed at all during the beginning and end of the school day at nearby Woodside High School, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. when school is in session.
The Planning Commission voted 7-0 to give the club four approvals needed to go ahead with the project: a conditional use permit to continue operating, a conditional use permit to do work near Redwood Creek, an exception to do a large amount of grading, and approval of the environmental report, a mitigated negative declaration.
Planning commissioners are Daniel Yost, Marilyn Voelke, Sandra Thompson, Adolph Rosekrans, Aydan Kutay, Elizabeth Hobson and Suzanne Muller.