Mr. McGrath, from Orinda, seems to blame neighbors of his 632 McCorkle Ave. project for his problems, accusing these people of being anti-development. Neighbors, residents of St. Helena, respond that their voice is not being heard by the city, that Mr. McGrath’s project is more important to the city than these following concerns.

The City Council approved two new multi-family housing projects, adding 80 new residents, to McCorkle, a short two-block street. Most of the street is privately owned. Due to congestion issues already posed by an existing 10-unit apartment building, neighbors asked the city: What kind of liability would these owners have with so many new residents on the street? And is the city really just taking their private property? In spite of these concerns, the Planning Commission and the City Council would not discuss these issues.

As a dead-end street, McCorkle Avenue has no emergency ingress/egress or an emergency turn around without going onto private property. Both of these city requirements are not on McCorkle. Given that 40 of these 80 new residents are likely to be children playing in the street, neighbors asked about safety issues. In spite of these concerns, the Planning Commission and the City Council would not discuss these issues.

Mr. McGrath is required by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to remediate contaminated soil on his site, re: chromium 6 (the Erin Brockovich toxin), lead, cadmium and zinc. The soil removal has not been completed; apparently further testing is required. On May 2, Mr. McGrath excavated part of his contaminated soil, leaving the disturbed toxic waste in large unprotected piles on site, exposed to rain and wind. Neighbors are concerned that these piles of hazardous waste could further contaminate portions of the site that were not previously tested. After six months of standing in the open, this contamination could potentially spread to neighboring properties. Again, in spite of these concerns, the Planning Commission and City Council would not discuss these issues.

Wouldn’t the residents of any street in St. Helena expect the city to listen to these sorts of issues? Apparently, the city favors Mr. McGrath’s development more than concerns of neighbors to this site.

Anne Fisher

St. Helena

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