HAYWARD -- A developer who plans to sell shoreline parcels to be used as warehouses or for light manufacturing will set aside a large part of the 80-plus acres as wetlands and habitat for the protected burrowing owl, under a proposal approved by the city's planning commission.
The commission approved a zoning change that will allow developer John Weber to subdivide 31.5 acres into 14 parcels to sell. Under the plan approved by the commission, the developer will create wetlands on about three-quarters of an acre, plus rehabilitate another third of an acre of existing wetlands. The wetlands will be part of 55 acres set aside for burrowing owls.
The project will destroy about a quarter of an acre of wetlands, said Tim Koonze, city associate planner.
Planning Commissioner Sara Lamnin said she voted for the project because "it seemed like the applicants had done their due diligence in terms of protecting the environment, which is of vital importance."
"It looked like a good balance of addressing two important needs in our community: the environment and jobs," she said.
Evelyn Cormier, a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Hayward Area Shoreline Planning Agency, spoke against the proposal at Thursday's meeting.
"We've been fighting development of that property since the 1980s. It should be open space and wetlands," she said later.
The parcel was a duck hunting club at one time. Since Weber purchased it in
In February, a burrowing owl was found on the parcel at the end of Baumberg Avenue and Bridge Road, the first sighting there since 2007. No owls were seen when the area was checked again in March.
Biologists will be on hand during construction of streets and utilities to ensure that any burrowing owls are protected, Koonze said.
The property was previously zoned light manufacturing, which does not permit warehouses. It was rezoned to a planned development district to allow warehouses in addition to light manufacturing. The commission approved the project and zoning change on a 6-0 vote, with Diane McDermott absent. The proposal next goes to the City Council.
The burrowing owl is listed as a state "species of special concern," which gives it special protection, though not as many as those for endangered species.
The parcel is next to the state's Eden Landing Ecological Reserve. The developer will be required to install and maintain a cyclone fence to prevent debris from blowing into the wetlands and reserve.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.