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Tonight: Portola Valley revisits 'meadow preserve'

The meaning of "meadow preserve" in the Portola Valley general plan and how that term applies to the open field at 555 Portola Road is up for further discussion by the Town Council at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road.

The field in question sits at the foot of a view, uninterrupted by man-made structures, of the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, a prized part of the town's scenic corridor.

After years of debate over the future of this field, the owners -- Dr. Kirk Neely and Holly Myers -- won approval from the Planning Commission in January 2012 to build a barn and grow fruits and vegetables nearby. In a separate split decision, the commission denied the couple's request to add a vineyard, a necessary addition for the field's economic viability, Dr. Neely said at the time.

The couple did not appeal the split decision to the council, but "this was a major concern to them" and they have been waiting for the Town Council to clarify the general plan language "to permit a broader agricultural use interpretation allowing for vineyards," Town Planner Tom Vlasic said in a staff report. Members of the public have weighed in on the side of keeping the vegetation as it is, "mainly hay and grasses," Mr. Vlasic added.

Past discussions about the field have focused on the meanings of terms such as "natural" and "existing character" and "largely open" and "present agricultural uses."

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