Ascension Heights project troubles neighbors

Neighbors of a planned subdivision just outside of San Mateo’s city limits have organized against the development, saying that the years of construction will create significant health and safety impacts.

The final environmental impact report for the 29-unit subdivision known as Ascension Heights is expected to be released Friday.
The Baywood Park Homeowners Association, which has homes neighboring the proposed project, say the health risks from the dust particles and vehicle diesel fuel coming from the construction site are too great to bear.

“All the surrounding neighbors are concerned,” association President Jerry Ozanne said. “The older original owners could face heart attack or stroke and the younger families face asthma problems.”

The project site is located within unincorporated San Mateo, bordered by College of San Mateo Drive, Parrott Drive, Bel Aire Drive and Ascension Drive.

A draft environmental impact report released in June notes that issues to be resolved with the development include “temporary construction emissions associated with grading.”

The hill the development would sit on is steep and needs to be graded; 131,000 cubic yards of dirt will be removed from the site in 6,000 truckloads, according to Ozanne, who has been a resident of the area for 30 years.

The homeowners’ association has collected a list of 500 signatures asking that their health concerns be addressed, they also sent formal comments when the draft EIR was released.

Lisa Grote, the county’s director of planning and building, said the impacts to air quality are “significant and unavoidable,” but could be mitigated.

“Any dirt piles made could be covered with tarp,” she said of mitigation measures suggested in the final EIR. “Same goes for the trucks leaving the property.”

Grote added that the project should only cause a stir for five weeks, during the time that the grating to the steep slope is done.
Ozanne said the impacts will last the entire five years of construction.

Air-quality agencies emphasize, “implementation of effective and comprehensive control measures” — not abandoning the project — according to the environmental document, which also states that the entire Bay Area does not meet particulate standards.

The county’s Planning Commission will vote on the final environmental document and the project at its Dec. 9 meeting.

The Board of Supervisors will not take up the matter unless the developer or those opposing the EIR appeal the planning commission’s decision, Grote said.

The developer, John O’Rourke, owner of San Mateo Real Estate and Construction, could not be reached for comment.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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