San Leandro's dreams of becoming a tech and clean energy hub have come into conflict with the desire of Heron Bay residents to maintain the tranquility of their neighborhood.
And City Hall is stuck in the middle.
In dispute is a plan to erect a 104-foot tall wind power turbine on an industrial site near the point where San Lorenzo Creek empties into the Bay.
The site is home to Halus Power Systems, a small company that, two years ago, bought an empty warehouse in San Leandro. There it now employs 11 people who rebuild used wind turbines and then install the furbished equipment in locations that are off the grid.
Halus wants to build a demonstration turbine on his 5-acre property to show prospective customers, promote green energy and generate enough power to run his shop.
In recent months the company has prepared studies to explain the project and discuss any noise, effects on birds or other environmental consequences arising from the operation of the turbine.
In May, city planning staff issued a "mitigated negative declaration" which is governmentese for, "Okay, go ahead."
The declaration set a deadline for public comment that was set to expire at 4 pm June 21st, which is today.
But at the City Council meeting Monday night, members of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association -- many of whom live within sight of the proposed turbine -- said they'd only just heard about the project.
More than half a dozen speakers asked the city to extend the review period for another 120 days.
"It's just due diligence," said Benny Lee, president of the Heron Bay Homeowners Association and an undeclared candidate for the city council seat currently held by Joyce Starosciak (the declared candidates are ).
Lee said few homeowners were notified and those who got the notifications did not have enough time to study the project.
"It's not only for the Homeowners' Association but for the environment and the community," Lee said of the requested 4-month delay.
Halus president Louis Rigaud said a 120 day delay would mean the project could not start before the rainy season. And since the work could not be done in the wet weather, it would be tantamount to halting the project until next spring.
Rigaud met with members of the Homeowners' Association Wednesday night in the hopes of assuaging their concerns.
"I guess we could have done more (to contact neighbors) earlier, but we certainly followed the rules," Rigaud told Patch.
He said the rules call for notifying any neighbor with 300 feet of the project. There were only six but Halus notified 25.
Rigaud noted that the Heron Bay development is bisected by 120-foot tall high-tension power lines which are closer to more homes, as well as talle,r than his turbine would be.
The project must still go to the Board of Zoning Adjustments on June 28, which could extend the time for public comment. Any Board decision could also be appealed to the City Council.
Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce held a reception at the Halus site Wednesday afternoon.
It was planned in advance of the controversy and was supposed to celebrate the project getting the green light.
Now supporters may have to put the cork back in the champagne bottle as tiny the wind power company tries to win its neighbors' support.
(Editor's note: Louis Rigaud wrote me to say that Wednesday's event was not connected to his project but was instead one of a series of meetings of Green Corridor, a regional network of alternative energy startups. He did not talk about the project because it would "look pretty presumptuous and offensive to the home owners next door if they think we were celebrating our proposed wind project before even getting our variance," he said in an email.)
(Other documents on file in connection with the project include: the technical report on environmental effects.)