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District close to choosing site for new elementary school

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The Belmont-Redwood Shores School District appears close to choosing a site for a new elementary school in Redwood Shores, but at least one neighbor says the plan will harm local wildlife habitats.

The school board’s site-selection committee will deliver a recommendation Wednesday that the district accept developer Max Keech’s offer of a seven-acre parcel on a more than 100-acre piece of land at the northwestern end of Redwood Shores known as Area H for $12 million.

Keech also plans to build 110 townhomes and restore 95 acres of wetlands, pending approval by the Redwood City Council.

Redwood Shores residents approved a $25 million bond last November to build a new school aimed at relieving overcrowding at Sandpiper School.

"Area H is way above the other sites we’ve looked at," said committee member Bonnie Wolf, who also headed the bond-measure campaign. "It’s properly zoned, it’s intended for development, it’s not in the airport path and we have some funds available to mitigate traffic and parking concerns."

An early site survey concluded that some of the district’s most suitable sites were near the Belmont border — not a popular plan among Redwood Shores parents.

Other options included building on Mariner Park — Redwood Shores’ biggest park — or adding buildings at Sandpiper, which would allow as many as 750 additional students. But the district is anticipating up to 900, according to Wolf.

Terry Anderlini, a San Mateo attorney whose home borders Area H, says Keech’s proposal will destroy habitat and put the school district through a lengthy, and possibly fruitless, process.

"It has to go through the City Council, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission— residents’ kids will all be grown and gone before it happens," Anderlini said.

The Redwood City Council on Aug. 28 approved an extension on Keech’s right to develop the site, an agreement that also establishes $20,000-per-unit development fees that will provide funding for traffic mitigation, Keech said.

The Belmont-Redwood Shores School Board is slated to consider the site committee’s recommendation Sept. 21. If the board accepts his proposal, Keech plans to deliver his development application to Redwood City in late September or October.

bwinegarner@examiner.com