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Archive for December, 2009

Werden the smooth-talker

We meant to get this into the print version of the Insider, but there wasn’t room.

So here, belatedly, are some notes from the Dec. 3 meeting of the Foster City Planning Commission, during which the commission voted to recommend that the City Council certify a final environmental impact report for Gilead Sciences’ campus expansion and approve a development agreement with the biopharmaceutical company.

Two neighbors of Gilead Sciences expressed over the “significant and unavoidable” noise that will accompany the renovation of Gilead’s campus. The women live across Mariner’s Island Boulevard from Gilead, just over the San Mateo-Foster City border. They were worried that their lives will be disrupted by the construction, which is scheduled to last 10 years, and their property values will be depressed.

Charlie Bronitsky, appearing as a planning commissioner for the last time before being introduced Dec. 7 as a new member of the City Council, sympathized with the women’s concerns and assured them that, as the project moves forward, city officials will do what they can to keep construction noise in check.

Commissioner Ollie Pattum didn’t say much, other than to note that all construction projects create noise. C’est la vie. Commissioner Bob Werden engaged the women, but he may have made matters worse.

“You moved next to a commercial area,” Werden admonished the women, who vociferously objected to that and other points Werden made while addressing them.

“Property in Foster City is worth millions of dollars,” he later added. “We can’t afford not to build there.”

One of the women, Gail Benson, said the following week that, although she moved into her condo 9 years ago, the buildings have been there for 30 years, meaning the Mariners Reef condo complex predates Gilead, which formed in 1987.

Benson told the Planning Commission she has nothing to against Gilead, but she would “like them a lot more if they were 100 miles away.”

Benson’s friend, Diane Gyuricza, told the commission she took exception to the “statement of overriding considerations” it signed off on. The statement expresses, in essence, that the project is worth doing despite its negative impacts on the city in terms of traffic congestion and noise pollution.

“I’m really offended by that term,” she said.

Commissioners Ron Cox and Noemi Avram had to recuse themselves from the Gilead discussion due to conflicts, so the final vote was 3-0 in favor of the various Gilead recommendations.

Cox didn’t return a phone call inquiring about what his conflict is. Avram, an architect, responded to an e-mail, indicating she recently did an interior residential remodel for the president of Gilead, John Gilligan.

There’s another Gilead meeting tomorrow. Here’s the Gilead page on the city’s Web site.

Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
Under: Foster City, San Mateo County | 2 Comments »