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DMB limits guest list to San Benito County only
Gilroy – A handful of Santa Clara County residents got scratched off a list of locals who flew to Arizona this weekend for a look at major development that could spring up near Gilroy.

Instead, Arizona-based developer DMB chose to limit the guest list to residents of San Benito County, as part of its initial efforts to win support for Rancho San Benito – a development proposed for seven square miles along the county’s border with Santa Clara County.

Despite assurances that South Valley will play a role in shaping the project, the failure to include Santa Clara County residents on the trip has some local officials on edge. They worry that South Valley will have the least say on the project while shouldering the brunt of its environmental and traffic impacts.

“They know that we’re not the ones making the decisions,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage said of residents and officials in San Benito County. “We can complain about the impacts and they may say they’re unmitigatable. I guess they feel that they don’t need us. We’re trying to help their county out with roads and all the other things we’re doing. I think it’s only right that we be included in what’s going on out there. This is going to have a regional impact.”

To date, DMB has avoided releasing any details about the ultimate scope of Rancho San Benito, though last fall DMB’s local representative Ray Becker told officials it could range from 900 to 8,000 homes. Officials worry the project could increase traffic on Highways 25 and 101 and potentially undercut Gilroy’s tax base.

Becker said that he spoke before the Gilroy Planning Commission last week to update them on the project and to allay any concerns.

“I made the commitment to the planning commission that we would include Gilroy and all of South County in the planning process,” he said.

DMB, which has built communities in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Utah, owns about 4,500 acres just south of the Santa Clara County line near the Pajaro River. The development company has spent the last year talking to groups and individuals about what kind of community they’d like to see on the property.

By March, the company intends to provide hard numbers on housing, the amount of commercial and industrial space, and other major aspects of the project.

Becker said that DMB also may send some residents of South Santa Clara County to Arizona once the summer heat passes.

“I really don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish with these trips,” Gilroy Mayor Al Pinheiro said. “Obviously if they’re a reputable company and they do this stuff, that’s fine and nice. But that still doesn’t take away the concerns about the impacts.”

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