A proposed residential development in east Morgan Hill that would preserve about 500 acres of open space was met with resistance from area environmental advocates before the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the developer’s proposed subdivision map.
The five-member board of supervisors gave unanimous approval to the 25-lot subdivision known as Coyote Highlands March 26, according to County staff.
The development is proposed on a 567-acre rural hillside parcel at 15420 Carey Ave. in east Morgan Hill. Individual residential lots are proposed to vary in size from about 3 to 11 acres each. Proposed open space areas within the subdivision total about 508 acres.
The developer, Coyote Highlands LLC, has proposed building a single access road through the subdivision, from the end of Maple Avenue to the end of Oak Canyon Drive, according to County staff.
Collier Buffington is listed on County planning documents and applications as a representative of Coyote Highlands LLC. Jeffrey Allen is listed as the "registered agent" of the corporation on the website corporationwiki.com. Neither Buffington nor Allen could be reached for comment.
Opposed to the development are the Committee For Green Foothills, the Greenbelt Alliance and the Santa Clara County Audubon Society. The three environmental groups jointly submitted a letter in opposition to the project, which they noted is proposed on “relatively undisturbed land,” to the County Planning Commission Feb. 28.
The letter indicates the groups’ concerns over the project’s potential impact on three creeks that form the headwaters of Llagas Creek, and on the migratory bird population that passes over the area.
“It is this setting that is the basis for the attractiveness of the project to home buyers,” the letter said. “And it is the responsibility of the County as well as organizations such as ours to make sure that the irreplaceable biological and hydrological resources of this setting are appropriately protected.”
The Coyote Highlands property sits just east of the area of Morgan Hill known as the Southeast Quadrant, an 1,200-acre patchwork of small farms and large residential lots on the east side of U.S. 101.
The City Council has long had plans to annex about 760 acres of the SEQ into the city limits in order to control growth, preserve open space for a “greenbelt around the city, and promote more sports and recreational uses in the area.
Tentative development proposals for the SEQ, which depend heavily on annexation into the city, include the South County Catholic High School near Murphy and Barrett avenues, and a residential planned community on property that is currently owned by the Chiala family.
The San Jose Diocese is in the process of raising money to build the new high school.
The City is in the process of conducting an environmental study of the overall SEQ plans.
Coyote Highlands did not require approval from the City because the property is in an unincorporated area, but the developer did notify City Hall and residents in the area about the proposal, according to Morgan Hill Senior Planner Rebecca Tolentino.
“Even though they’re not in the city, just to be a respected neighbor they wanted to let Morgan Hill residents know about it,” Tolentino said.
The project might still impact the SEQ by bringing more cars through the area, inducing growth by potentially transporting water into the development from off the property, and by impacting the hillside views in east Morgan Hill, according to Julie Hutcheson of the Committee For Green Foothills.