Letter: Wake up, San Benito

Wake up, residents of San Benito! The comment period for the environmental impact report for the San Benito County General Plan ended last week, and it could have mean huge changes in the county.  Major features of the Plan are four “New Community Study Areas” scattered out in the north part of the County, a large “Winery/Hospitality Priority” region, and lots of new and expanded roads. One of the New Community areas includes the site of the huge Rancho San Benito development that was proposed a few years ago between Hollister and Gilroy. Road plans would include extending Shore Road to Highway 101 near Y Road, and realigning Highway 25 in that area, which would also accommodate the Rancho San Benito development (could this also be the reason for a proposed expensive bridge across the San Benito River near Y Road?). The other New Community areas are west of San Juan Bautista, northeast of Hollister to the Santa Clara County line, and south of Hollister.
The EIR includes several alternatives that would reduce the impacts of new development projects in the county. The “Environmentally Superior” (so designated in the EIR) “City-Centered Growth” alternative would direct new development to Hollister and its immediate surroundings, instead of creating whole new communities. According to the EIR, the City-Centered Growth alternative would accommodate anticipated growth needs in the county, but reduce impacts to agricultural lands, wildlife habitat and other natural resources, potential of flood damage and injury, air quality, transportation, cultural resources, and aesthetics when compared to the “chosen” plan.
Whatever your opinions about growth, open space, development, urban sprawl, and traffic, if you care about the future and quality of life in San Benito County, contact your county supervisor and planning commissioners and let them know what you think.
Martha Schauss, San Benito County

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