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Santa Clara County Upholds Planning Commission Approval of the Cordoba Center Religious Facility

All Three Appeals Denied
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors held a public hearing to consider three appeals filed by South Valley Islamic Center, San Martin Neighborhood Alliance, and People’s Coalition for Government Accountability in response to the August 2, 2012, Planning Commission’s conditional approval of the Cordoba Center Religious Facility and Cemetery. 
 
After nearly three hours of public testimony and discussion, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to uphold the Planning Commission’s approval of the Cordoba Center and to incorporate five recommended staff modifications. The Planning Commission granted a Use Permit, Architecture and Site Approval, and Grading Approval and adopted a Mitigated Negative Declaration and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program for a religious institution and cemetery. 
 
The Planning Commission’s approval authorized the property to be used for a religious institution and cemetery including a 5,000 square foot prayer hall building, a 2,800 square foot multi-purpose hall building, an outdoor play area and restroom, and approximately two acres of cemetery grounds.  The appeal filed by the South Valley Islamic Center sought to modify the conditions imposed on the project by the Planning Commission. The two appeals filed by the People’s Coalition for Government Accountability and the San Martin Neighborhood Association sought to overturn the Planning Commission’s approval of the project.
 
“After reading the reports including groundwater studies, conferring with our legal staff and hearing from the public, it is clear to me that the appropriate and legal course of action is for the Board to deny all of the appeals and to uphold the Planning Commission’s decision,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman. 
 
Conditions imposed by the Planning Commission, based on the capacity of the proposed septic system, limited the number of regular attendees at the facility to 80 people and up to three single-day events per year with up to 150 people with an additional number of porta-potties provided on those days.  The South Valley Islamic Center had requested that the condition be removed, so they could have more special events.  The group will be permitted one additional event per year.
 
Today, the Board took a positive step toward approving the construction of the Cordoba Center and providing a valued resource to the community,” said President George Shirakawa, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.
 
Supervisor Dave Cortese initially sought to substantially increase the number of special events permitted.  However, concerns expressed by the Environmental Health staff about the over use of porta-potties was taken into consideration.  
 
“I am in a box here.  I know that three or four events is extremely limiting,” said Cortese.  “I am voting for this because if I don’t support this motion, it will be misunderstood.”
 
Supervisor Liz Kniss asked that the record reflect that there is an opportunity in the future for modifications.
 
“I think the Cordoba Center will be a great asset to our community,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager.  “It will add to the rich religious tapestry of this County.”
 
 
·         Use Permit Condition #3
Hours of operation including special events are restricted to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (condition reestablished)
 
·         Use Permit Condition #5
 Maximum capacity of the facility is 80 patrons including three (3) staff members. A total of up to four (4) single-day special events with maximum of 150 people attendance (including three (3) staff members) occurring between 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. are allowed per year.
 
·         Use Permit Condition #6
Temporary Event permits and Tent permits may be required by Department of Environmental Health and Fire Marshal’s Office for the four special events that will accommodate up to 150 people.
 
·         Use Permit Condition #7
 No overnight accommodations, except a caretaker’s residence are allowed.
 
·         Condition #37d
 Prior to submitting approved septic design plans to obtain a septic permit, the applicant must obtain the field office supervisor’s approval, signature and stamp on the septic design plans, and approval of reserved field. No septic permit will be issued unless the septic design plans has been approved by the field office environmental health specialist, and the district office supervisor.
 
Even though the Use Permit also covered the application to establish a cemetery, a Cemetery Permit, which can only be approved by the Board of Supervisors, also is required and would have to be in place prior to any burials. 
 
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Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119
Posted: September 25, 2012