Corte Madera hotel receives favorable environmental review

After four years of jumping through environmental hoops, a plan to rebuild the Best Western Inn in Corte Madeira has removed a major hurdle.

An environmental report released this month completed the project at 57 Madera Blvd. “It will not lead to a significant deterioration in the quality of the environment” and “with the implementation of the required mitigation measures, the impacts will be less than significant.” That’s good news for the development team, said Garrett Grialow, president of Reneson Hotels, which is proposing the project.

“That’s what we expected,” Ghiallo said. “I think the biggest difference is that we’re keeping the pond on site. We’re actually proposing to improve the habitat. The hotel, we think, is designed to fit the site well.”

The current hotel is a 110-room Best Western hotel located on 5.53 acres between the Tamal Vista Boulevard lane and Highway 101. There is an on-site restaurant.

Reneson Hotels originally applied to rebuild the hotel in 2014. A plan to pave a half-acre pond on the site drew heavy criticism, prompting the company to redesign a project that would preserve it. However, it seems that this was not good enough. Planning commissioners wanted an in-depth pond restoration plan before they considered giving a thumbs up on the proposal, so the developers pulled the app.

Now, after several years of revisions, the project proposes to retain the pond and add habitat improvements along the edge of the uplands. The hotel will be a 149-room U-shaped Residence Inn. It will be a mixture of three- and four-story sections, 47 feet high at its highest point. There will be no restaurant on site.

The project will comply with Level 1 requirements of the California Green Building Standards Act. There will be 169 parking booths, including six accessible, and 14 with the ability to charge electric vehicles.

The environmental report, called Preliminary Study and Mitigating Negative Advertising, looked at the impacts on aesthetics, air quality, biological resources, geology and soil, and determined that all impacts could be mitigated to less than significant with appropriate steps.

Barbara Salzman, president of the Marine Audubon Society, said the organization is thrilled to save and improve the pond.

“We want to keep the heron’s roost in place,” Salzman said, noting that the site is believed to be a popular roost area for the black-crowned night heron.

Salzman said that members of Marine Audubon will take some time to review the proposed vegetation and how to do it.

The environmental report is available for public review through January 14. The report is required under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Planning Director Adam Wolfe said: “Based on the information reviewed thus far, we were pleased with the project’s overall consistency with the city’s goals for the development of a new hotel as defined in the recently approved hotel ordinance.”

Employees plan to recommend conditional approval to the planning committee. Wolf said a public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 25.

If the planning committee gives its blessing, Wolf said, the project moves to city council for consideration.

Project details and environmental report are available at townofcortemadera.org/970/Corte-Madera-Residence-Inn.

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