With a revision to pick up the tab for planning and development fees for the Morgan Hill Historical Society’s coming expansion of the Villa Mira Monte site, the city council unanimously passed the fiscal year 2012-2013 capital and operating budget last week.
The 2.5-acre Villa Mira Monte site includes the Morgan Hill Museum, Hiram Morgan Hill House, Centennial History trail and rose gardens at 17860 Monterey Road.
The nonprofit society has long had plans to improve the driveway into the site, add more parking and make other improvements to the site, according to MHHS board member Kathy Sullivan.
The society requested that the council waive or fund the development and permit fees, which will cost more than $10,000. Council members did not want to waive the fees because doing so might set an awkward precedent for future developments in the city.
Instead, they offered to pay the fees out of the “park impact fund,” which is funded by impact fees paid by other developers, and is typically used for large capital expenses to improve or acquire park facilities, according to city staff.
The society and the city’s former redevelopment agency have worked together before in developing the museum site. The RDA has granted funds to the society for landscaping improvements on the property, and later for ongoing construction and preservation costs, according to a letter from the society to the council.
“Since that time the MHHS has invested thousands of dollars into the property as well as thousands of man hours and volunteer time, labor and materials into the restoration and preservation effort,” the letter from MHHS member Johanna Tacci said.
The museum is open to the general public and does not charge admission fees.
“Villa Mira Monte is a public asset,” Sullivan told the council Wednesday. “Our goal is to make this property whole.
“And we have to create more awareness in the community of who we are and what we do. There’s a huge educational opportunity ahead of us.”