Cherry Orchard Ranch – just leave the trees please

Now that signs of life are appearing in the housing market, a
bad idea
– the Cherry Orchard Ranch Development – has resurfaced.
Now that signs of life are appearing in the housing market, a bad idea – the Cherry Orchard Ranch Development – has resurfaced.

The development for “active seniors” is a bill of goods that Gilroy doesn’t need and shouldn’t buy. The Planning Commission and the City Council should make it clear from the outset that the city will not stretch the boundaries of the General Plan in unreasonable ways just so a developer and landowner can turn an orchard of cherry trees into a pile of cash.

The proposed 349-unit manufactured home development out at 459 Bolsa Road, past what used to be Zen’s Nursery, violates just about every planning premise in our city’s plan. There’s a reason the land east of U.S. 101 isn’t zoned for housing – it’s called good planning. The Cherry Orchard proposal isn’t about seniors at all, it’s about sprawl.

To extend city services out to a relatively remote location makes absolutely no sense. Adding further distaste to the proposal is the veiled threat by developer Bill Cusack to take our town to court for not meeting a dubious “affordable housing goal.” Cities all over the state haven’t met the goal, and the truth is Gilroy has, and continues to do, more than the vast majority when it comes to building affordable housing.

Cusack should take his development plan and veiled threats to Menlo Park, for example, and see how the plan flies.

If he’d like to spend years in court wrangling about it, that’s unfortunate. But it’s certainly not a good reason to abandon good planning principles.

While the subject presents itself, the Planning Commission and City Council should be careful as to how the “shovel ready” housing project addendum is interpreted. Just because the shovel’s ready, doesn’t mean the project should be approved. Let’s not jettison years and years of careful planning because of a temporary terrible economic slump.

Steady as she goes, Gilroy, is a solid representation of how our leaders should continue to guide development. That means outright – and hopefully unanimous rejection – of the Cherry Orchard Ranch proposal and a watchful eye on any “shovel ready” projects that are proposed.

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