By Barbara Wood | Special to the Almanac
Critics of the process for updating Woodside's Town Center Area Plan appear to be appeased, at least for now, if the lack of dissent, and the lack of attendees, at the Feb. 11 Town Council meeting to discuss next steps for the plan is any indication.
The council unanimously approved a plan to hold two community meetings on the town center plan, on two Saturdays, April 26 and May 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The town will make an effort to let everyone know about the meetings, using email, postings on the NextDoor Woodside website, and even hand-delivering notices to local businesses, in addition to the usual mailings and newspaper notices.
Both community meetings will feature walking tours of the town center area led by Woodside residents or town employees as well as lunch for participants.
The April meeting will focus on design of the town center, including buildings, structures, signs, lighting, public art, amenities and gathering spaces. A discussion of possible restrictions on the type of businesses allowed in the town center will also be on the agenda as well as discussion of the Safe Routes to School improvements the town is working on.
The May meeting will focus on ways to improve parking and traffic problems in the town center area. Participants will have a chance to prioritize possible changes to give the town an idea of which are most important.
The council is scheduled discuss the next steps for revising the town center plan in June.
Council member Peter Mason reminded the council that they are planning for the long term as well as the short term. "We need to be thinking 15 years out, not just today" he said. "Some things are easy to change. Other things are harder to change."
Sally Hartman, one of the local residents who had spoken out about some of the ideas in the original task force report, said she supports the town's direction. "I'm really excited," she said. "I think some really good changes will come out of the process."
The Town Center Area Plan is a document guiding the use of the commercial area along Woodside Road between Whiskey Hill Road and Canada Road. The document was created in 1970 and last updated in 1988.
In February 2013, the town formed a special task force to work on an update of the plan. The Town Center Area Task Force is made up of 30 Woodside residents, including representatives of all the town's committees and commissions.
After four meetings, the task force presented a report that included all of the ideas committee members had come up with. Some Woodside residents took exception to a few of the ideas in the report and demanded the Town Council exclude them from any future consideration.
In November, at a meeting attended by more than 75 residents, the council voted to take several topics off the table, including: constructing a multi-story parking garage; making major changes to the road configuration; including residential properties in the town center plan; allowing housing in the town center area; and changing Measure J, which forbids commercial developments on public property in the town center (and had been interpreted as ruling out a farmers' market in the town center parking lot.)
Click here to open a staff report on the Town Center Area Plan (PDF document).