Tech park plan draws public outcry

Residents concerned about traffic, notification

A proposed large industrial development on the northern end of Morgan Hill has stirred an overwhelming response from residents, according to city officials. And these same officials say they are concerned that rumors about the project are floating around.

To attempt to answer residents’ numerous questions, city officials hosted a community meeting on May 21 on the Morgan Hill Technology Park Project, which is still in its early stages.

The project has spurred the formation of a group of citizens who call themselves Morgan Hill Responsible Growth Coalition, urging residents to speak out against the development.

Earlier this year, Dallas-based developer Trammell Crow purchased the 61-acre property adjacent to US 101 at Cochrane Road and submitted an application to the city to rezone a majority of the land for industrial use. The project proposes to construct up to one million square feet of industrial and commercial space, as well as up to 300 housing units.

An environmental impact study is being developed, and a draft is expected to be released later this year for public input.

In front of a standing-room-only city council chambers, Morgan Hill Development Services Director Jennifer Carman called the response to the project “phenomenal.”

“In my career I have never seen this type of response to a notice of preparation for an EIR,” she said.

Topping the list of questions was the identity or type of prospective tenants. Will Parker, principal of Trammell Crow’s Northern California Business Unit, said that while there has been some “preliminary communication” with potential tenants, nothing is concrete.

“Companies like to see construction in process,” he said. “It gives them a timeframe, and it gives them confidence that a development is moving forward.”

Among the many questions asked during the two-hour meeting, residents expressed concern about how the public was notified of the project. The city’s municipal code requires officials to notify residents within 300 feet of a project that is subject to a public hearing. For the Trammell Crow project, the city notified residents within 600 feet of the project, Carman said. That means about 173 homes were notified.

The city began circulating a notice of the project to residents on March 20 in advance of the April 23 planning commission meeting, where officials discussed the preparation of an environmental impact report.

Still, many residents said that wasn’t a wide enough reach, and felt most of the city should have been notified.

“We realize now that we have to do better; we have to go farther,” Carman said.

The Morgan Hill Responsible Growth Coalition, on its website, urges residents to contact city officials with their thoughts.

“People keep asking, ‘How can we stop this?’ the website states. “More importantly we hear, ‘Why did the City of Morgan Hill only tell 174 residents about this huge building being built, something that will impact every Morgan Hill citizen and countless other South County residents, but then sent out a blast email to its entire mailing list to dispel “rumors” about its negative impact posted on Nextdoor?’”

The property is located adjacent to De Paul Health Center, just off the intersection of Cochrane Road and De Paul Drive.

For information on the project, visit the city’s website at morgan-hill.ca.gov/1765/Morgan-Hill-Technology-Park-EIR.

Leave your comments