Debate heats up over future commercial building in San Benito County

Debate heats up over future commercial building in San Benito County

HOLLISTER, Calif. - The controversy continues in San Benito County over future commercial growth that some residents say will lead to more traffic and take away from the beauty of the area.

“We don’t need gas stations, fast food restaurants, hotels, neon signs and up to 60 foot signs to mare our beautiful rural landscape,” one resident in opposition said at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

In the meeting, the planning commission explained why rezoning parts of the county near Highway 101 and allowing future building will improve the economy of San Benito County and still maintain control on just who can build.

“The ordinances will not allow anybody as a result of those actions to go out and do construction or development,” RMA principal planner Darryl Boyd said.

Critics of the proposal stood outside county chambers protesting the change the county supervisors will vote on later this month.

They say traffic is bound to get even worse along Highway 101, and the already precious water supply will shrink.

“You’ve had all these housing developments by the red barn and all around there where they’ve lost their wells, and Aromas water has had to supply the water for those properties” Aromas resident Andy Hsia-Coron said.

The county says the rezoning comes with strict building limits. That includes proof of a sustainable water source, a hotel can’t have more than 125 rooms and retail building would be limited to 100,000 square feet.

There were more objections today as the Native American community says all four zoning areas encroach on their sacred land.

“It's like our society is so absent of the sacred that we’re not even given consideration,” Indian Canyon resident Ann-Marie Sayers said.

The vote comes before supervisors on September 24, and the signs point towards the proposal passing but that won't stop the opposition.

“What we will do is immediately launch a citizen's referendum under California law we have the right to take an issue like this directly to the people,” Hsia-Coron said.

They hope that could lead to a measure, which could be on the ballot as soon as next year.


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