After debating at length how strong a statement to send to the town's neighbors to the north, the Atherton City Council unanimously voted to oppose Cargill's plan to intensively develop its salt lands with residential and commercial buildings, and to support restoration of the 1,436-acre property on the Bay in Redwood City.
The council passed a resolution expressing its position at its April 21 meeting after hearing from dozens of residents from Atherton and nearby communities, who were divided as to whether the town should refrain from commenting on the controversial project until an environmental impact study is completed.
Cargill and developer DMB want to build a community of up to 12,000 homes, commercial space, playing fields and several hundred acres of restored wetlands on the property, located in the northeastern portion of Redwood City, immediately south of Seaport Boulevard and east of U.S.101, according to the Redwood City Planning Department's Web site.
Atherton joins Menlo Park and Belmont in strongly opposing the project. In April, Woodside took a milder approach, passing a resolution to convey the Town Council's "serious concerns" about the project and indicating the town's "intention to closely monitor the pending environmental review."
Although Atherton council members were concerned that too strong a statement could backfire, closing the door on the town in terms of influencing the Redwood City Council as it proceeds in the approval process, they ultimately took a firm stand. The approved resolution supports "the full restoration of the Cargill salt ponds and inclusion of the salt ponds in the Don Edwards National Wildlife refuge."
The council also voted to send a cover letter with the resolution, telling the Redwood City Council that, realizing the environmental review process will go forward, Atherton officials want to be a part of the decision-making process.