Hecker Pass plan tops city council agenda

City Council members are expected to sign off on the Hecker Pass
Specific Plan tonight after nearly three months of exhaustive
review and reshaping. But before that, they will devote an
hour-long study session to ordinances that would ban wood-burning
stoves in the city and restrict parking along First Street.
Gilroy – City Council members are expected to sign off on the Hecker Pass Specific Plan tonight after nearly three months of exhaustive review and reshaping. But before that, they will devote an hour-long study session to ordinances that would ban wood-burning stoves in the city and restrict parking along First Street.

The study session takes place at City Council chambers from 6 to 7pm, followed immediately by the regular council meeting.

Councilmen took up review of the Hecker Pass plan, which will guide future development along the city’s scenic western gateway, in early November, after the Planning Commission spent nearly two months on the document.

The plan, now nearly five years in the making, envisions preserving several hundred acres directly bordering the scenic passage as farmland and open space, while allowing clustered development in three areas set back from the road.

Since November, councilmen have combed through the 100-plus page document to ensure the preservation of agriculture and open space, deleting numerous potential uses such as day spas and hair salons and restricting other uses such as bed and breakfasts. As the plan now stands, it would allow 506 new homes in three areas – two south of Route 152, and one on the hillside to the north. All must lie at least 100 feet from the roadway.

Prior to voting on the Hecker Plan, councilmen will review recommendations for ordinances related to wood-burning stoves and parking along First Street.

One will consider banning wood burning stoves or fireplaces in all new homes. Residents who already have wood burning fireplaces would likely be exempted from the ordinance, but homeowners looking to remodel may have to install a gas fireplace instead of reinstalling their old, wood burning fireplace. Wood burning appliances also could be banned for commercial use, except for establishments that use such appliances to cook food such as a wood-fired pizza restaurant.

Councilmen also will consider an ordinance that could restrict or eliminate parking along First Street. Mayor Al Pinheiro said a ban could prevent the area from looking like a “parking lot.” Councilmen will likely discuss a full parking ban or the possibility of limiting cars to a single side of the thoroughfare.

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