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Owner of San Benito County land speaks out about development rumors

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, Calif. - For years, Rider McDowell has worked to design his vision for Betabel Road off Highway 101. He said the open land, once a dump site, is a chance to highlight local crops and draw new people to the beauty of San Benito County. "Right now people just drive by it. They don't know to turn off, go down Highway 156 and see Hollister, San Juan Bautista, and all these great places," said McDowell.

Development along Betabel Road is a part of San Benito County's general plan. McDowell and his family own one of the four nodes that the county cleared for development in 2015. San Benito County District 3 Supervisor, Anthony Botelho, said it's all in an effort to bring more jobs and revenue to the area. "This business will create tax revenue that will enhance our public safety, enhance our roads, and hopefully bring some parks to our county," said Botelho.

McDowell said the "Betabel Project" will raise an estimated $2 million in annual taxes for the county.

Any talk of development has been criticized in recent months. Some residents said the county shouldn't put a price tag on scenic, open land. "There are a handful of people that are in opposition to any development or growth in San Benito County. They are letting out some very dishonest information to get people to sign a petition," said Botelho. 

The petition targets a C3 ordinance that was passed by the board of supervisors two weeks ago. Botelho said the ordinance actually further protects the land and restricts developers.

McDowell said the restrictions haven't affected his overall vision. He wants the development to be an area families can use and enjoy for years to come. "It's very important for me to preserve this land. What was a 20 acre junkyard, in our case, is now going to be this beautiful project," said McDowell.

McDowell's bought the land in honor of his son who lost his life to pediatric cancer. If the county approves his design, he plans to donate every penny to cancer research. To learn the more about McDowell's charity, visit: www.canceragogo.com.

To learn more about the Betabel Project, visit: www.betabelproject.com.


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