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 Notre Dame de Namur University Rejects Belmont City Council’s Revisions to Koret Field Conditional Use Permit; Reverts to Previous CUP

University Asks City to Allow Field Use for Belmont Youth via Special Permit

Belmont, CA, February 24, 2011—Notre Dame de Namur University President Judith Maxwell Greig, Ph.D, has informed the Belmont City Council that the university will not sign the new conditional use permit for Koret Field that the City Council approved last month. At the same time Dr. Greig asked the council to grant a special permit to Belmont’s youth soccer leagues to allow them to use the field.

In a five-page letter to the City Council, Dr. Greig said the Council’s changes to the CUP that had been approved by the Belmont Planning Commission in October would strip the university of its vested rights to use the field, make it impossible to honor existing contracts and jeopardize millions of dollars in investments that NDNU has made in Koret Field. In all, she listed more than a dozen reasons why the university could not agree to the City Council’s changes to the CUP.

“As it stands now, everyone loses as a result of the City Council’s decision. The youth groups don’t get to use the field; NDNU doesn’t get a very small amount of additional access to its own field; the Belmont police will continue to expend city resources on trivial complaints with which they are not equipped to deal; and the handful of residents who appealed the Planning Commission action get none of what they asked for,” Dr. Greig said in a separate statement.

“However, there is no reason why Belmont’s children should be victimized by city politics,” she added. “NDNU remains willing to allow the city’s youth to use Koret Field. Both the Planning Commission and the City Council were unanimous in voting to include such access in an amended CUP. The city has the authority to issue a special permit to Belmont’s youth soccer groups to use the field. If we are all in agreement there should be absolutely no reason why the city would withhold such permission.”

In her letter, Dr. Greig said that: “The major impediment is that the conditions imposed are a rollback of the university’s vested rights (to the use of Koret field). The ambiguity of the 2005 CUP is only marginally addressed and new ambiguities are created. The micromanagement of the university’s athletic uses in the resolution will give the small group of residents even more of a sword to continue their attack on the university.”

Among the many issues raised by the letter was the requirement that the City Council review the CUP annually. “Some members of the council have made it clear that they will not tolerate “complaints” regardless of their merit. The small group of residents has only to continue its barrage of meritless complaints for the Council to consider adverse action,” she said.

The letter also cited burdensome reporting and record keeping requirements that would “create a minefield for technical complaints” and several provisions which were potentially illegal or covered by other city ordinances.

Notre Dame de Namur University is an independent Catholic, coeducational institution serving nearly 1800 students. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur, Belgium in 1851 and chartered by the state in 1868, NDNU maintains a strong commitment to social justice and community engagement. The University is fully accredited and offers 21 liberal arts and career preparation undergraduate programs, and 12 graduate degrees and seven credentials. The 50-acre campus is located in Belmont, just south of San Francisco. For more information visit www.ndnu.edu