The controversy centers around the location of the covered dressage arena — a 30 feet high, 200-foot-long building that would be located 50 feet from the property line of Matt and Marcia Messmer, according to their attorney Jeffrey Judd, who spoke at a Feb. 5 board meeting. The proposed location would block sunlight filtering through the trees from the west and dominate the Messmer's western view, he said.
The applicant had asked for feedback from 21 neighbors and some responded with letters of support, the staff report says. The applicant has studied "all potential locations" for the covered arena, found two that were viable, and put up story poles for them both, the report says.
The Messmers don't object to the project and expect it would be responsibly run, Judd said. But the covered arena is an issue and swapping the locations of the two arenas is "the ideal arrangement," he said, according to the meeting minutes. Dust from the open arena is preferable to the impact on the view from the covered one, he said.
Roberta Drive resident Virginia Bamford told the board that the proposed location for the covered arena would also affect her view. In defense of the Messmer's situation, Bamford said that placing the covered arena as proposed "would be like having an airplane hanger right next to her house."
A proposed skylight running nearly the length of the roof of the arena would also present a problem in that it would "emit a lot of light," Bamford said, according to the minutes.
Neighbor Steve Bennett, who lives on Woodside Road, said that while relocating the arena would help the Roberta Drive residents, it would "greatly (and) negatively impact four owners on the north side of the property," according to the minutes.
Woodside's Planning Director Jackie Young said she stood on the proposed site for the covered arena and could not see the Messmer property through the trees, according to the minutes. Marcia Messmer countered that light comes through the trees and that the building would present a solid structure along the entire length of her property.
So, where to put the covered arena? The meadow along Woodside Road abuts a scenic corridor and is "significantly steeper," according to a report by Blackburn Architects of San Francisco and commissioned by the review board. Intentions to preserve several mature oak trees and "other large specimens studding the property ... restrict the (site's) development potential," the report adds.
Senior Planner Sage Schaan, recalling a third conceptual design review at the subsequent board meeting April 16, told The Almanac that the applicant "studied" swapping the locations of the covered and the uncovered arenas.
The applicant also proposed moving the covered arena further to the north, burying part of a retaining wall along its east side to reduce visibility, and installing a cedar shingle roof rather than clay tiles on the arena, Schaan said.
Yamazaki noted in February that she has "very amicable relationships" with neighbors at their mostly equestrian facility on Runnymede Road, adding that it is operated with minimal use of water and minimal generation of dust, according to the minutes. She said she respects the "rural character and horse friendliness of Woodside ... and earnestly hope(s) to find a solution that is acceptable to everybody," the minutes say.
The board voted 3-1 to accept the project at the April meeting, with members Dick Brown, John Carvell and William J. McSherry in the majority, member Thalia Lubin in dissent and board Chair Scott Larson absent, Schaan said. The next hearing is not scheduled since a formal design review has not yet been applied for. The need for grading will likely send the project to the Planning Commission for further review, the report says.
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