The Moraga Planning Commission went back to the future Monday night as some past, less-than-neighborly behavior by St. Mary’s College drove concerns surrounding the school’s plan for a new sports complex.
Ultimately, the Commission voted 5-0 to move the project along, but not before adding several additional conditions, aimed at addressing the concerns raised by residents. Chairperson Stacia Levenfeld and Commissioner Jim Obsitnik were absent.
Lights, noise, and traffic were at the center of the evening’s comments. Several public speakers, as well as commission members, pointed to previous, and on-going, instances of light and noise pollution from the intramural sports field, football stadium, and nearby redwood grove.
Representatives of the college highlighted the effort put forth to address concerns raised by the community during the planning and design stage, as well as the school’s commitment to minimizing impacts in the future. Supporters of the the college urged the Commission to support the project, which they said was need to keep the college competitive with other campuses.
The Commission’s vote means that St. Mary’s can move ahead with the new complex. However, significant conditions were put in place to mitigate noise impacts, including the restriction of construction hours to between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Those hours are in place Monday through Saturday, until Sept. 1, to allow for an expedited construction schedule during good weather. Additionally, the college must provide an on-site construction manager during working hours to monitor conditions, relating to noise and other construction impacts. The manager must have the authority to make changes or stop work if activities are out of compliance with any of the rules. Before occupying any of the project’s buildings, the college must also submit a plan that addresses noise impacts from activities on the campus, including methods for reporting problems and enforcing rules.
The Commission imposed conditions to limit traffic and parking impacts from the new project, including requirements to ensure safe passage through the intersections of St. Mary’s Pkwy, Rheem Blvd., and Stafford Rd. with St. Mary’s Rd. Parking will be prohibited on nearby streets, St. Mary’s Rd. and Fernwood Dr.
Separate action was taken on the issue of lighting. Citing a failure by the college to minimize the impact of lights approved in 2011, as part of a turf replacement project, the Commission decided to agendize a rule requiring lights at the intermural sports field to be turned off at 9 p.m. The new rule will stay in place until St. Mary’s formulates a plan to keep light from spilling up into homes overlooking the campus. The Commission will vote on the new lighting restrictions at its next meeting.