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Plan to monitor Altamont Pass bird deaths  

mercurynews.com

ALAMEDA COUNTY – After balking at a $3 million plan to monitor the impact of the Altamont windmills on scores of birds – including protected species such as golden eagles, red tail hawks and burrowing owls – the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a down-sized monitoring plan today.

The proposed $600,000 contract, scaled-back from a monitoring system proposed in July, calls for 6,000 hours of monitoring in a six-month period and is expected to be only the initial phase in a longer study. The previous plan called for more than 12,000 hours.

According to a study released in 2004 by the California Energy Commission, an estimated 1,700 to 4,700 birds die each year by flying into whirring turbine blades or being electrocuted by transmission lines that thread through the 50,000-acre Altamont Wind Resource Area.

Also on the agenda for today’s 10 a.m. meeting, are development plans for a former chicken ranch and a use permit for a foster care licensing agency, both located in Castro Valley.

Delco Builders of Concord wants to subdivide the nearly 4-acre ranch on Malabar Avenue into 17 residential lots. Sixteen new homes would be built on 3 1/2 acres, while Marie Alcorn – whose family has owned the property since 1929 – would remain in her longtime home on the remaining half-acre. Only a few ranch buildings remain on the property.

Neighbors have fought housing development plans since 2001, favoring preservation of the property as a park or historical site.

“We need to preserve this very beautiful space as parks and open space,” said neighbor Susan Hersch, who with other nearby residents plans to attend Thursday’s meeting.

However, the county Planning Commission, Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council and county planners are recommending project approval.

The Hayward Area Recreation and Park District wants to acquire more park land in Castro Valley, but it doesn’t have the millions of dollars necessary to buy and develop the Malabar property. Despite neighbors’ urging, district directors declined to identify the Malabar land as a site to purchase should a $30 million Castro Valley park measure pass on Nov. 7.

Also to be decided today is a use permit for the Hosanna Homes foster care licensing agency, which Verne Teyler operates out of his Crow Canyon Road home. Planners are recommending a “no” vote.

For more than 20 years, classroom, recreation and storage buildings have been added to the site. Growing numbers of employees and students, and unapproved uses – such as Sunday church services – are not compatible with the 90-acre site’s agricultural zoning, county planners have said.

Supervisors will meet at 10 a.m. at the county administration building, 1221 Oak St., fifth floor, Oakland.

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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