Can a green town coexist with artificial grass? | May 8, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - May 8, 2013

Can a green town coexist with artificial grass?

by Dave Boyce

In a town whose general plan puts determined and repeated emphasis on preserving the natural environment and the town's rural character, is there room in that vision for a playing field covered in artificial grass? That's the question facing the Portola Valley Town Council on Wednesday, May 8.

The Woodside Priory School has applied for permission to replace its nonstandard running track with a standard quarter-mile oval, and received a green light from the Planning Commission in March to use artificial grass on the track's interior field, currently natural grass. It was a close 3-2 vote, with the majority citing private property rights and two years of poking at the project, but a public outcry over a conflict with the vision embodied in the general plan and zoning laws led the council to decide to review the commission's decision.

The council meets at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, in the Historic Schoolhouse and will consider three options, according to a staff report:

• The council can find the artificial surface consistent with the "general purpose and intent of the town's zoning ordinance and general plan" and allow the Priory to go ahead immediately. This option would include council approval of the school's conditional use permit (CUP) and the project's environmental documents, which establish a less-than-significant impact from a 2.5-acre field of artificial grass.

• The council could find inconsistency in the above criteria, still approve the environmental documents, but add a condition to the CUP requiring that the field be natural grass. The council's decision would be final in 30 days.

• The council could order a revision to the environmental documents, have the revision circulated for public comment, and add a condition to the CUP requiring a natural grass field. Final action would likely be delayed until at least July, staff said.


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