The Coastal Post - April, 1998

Action To Get Secret Buck Reports

By Staff

More than a dozen Novato citizens, backed by the Committee to Save Mt. Burdell, have petitioned the City of Novato for release of the geology report about land movement on or near the site of construction of the Buck Center for Research in Aging. In a letter submitted by environmental attorney Dotty LeMieux, the citizens also asked for the city to issue a stop work order to halt construction of the project until the cause of the landslide that has devastated the neighboring Partridge Knoll housing development is determined.

"It is unconscionable for construction of the Buck Center to continue while the houses in Partridge Knolls continue to slide," said Susan Ristow, a Committee to Save Mt. Burdell member and one of 14 Novato residents who signed the letter.

"It is high time that the city come out from behind closed doors to inform the public about this huge public safety issue," Ristow continued, noting that she hoped release of the geology report, prepared by William Cotton Associates, would shed light on the secret discussions that have been on-going between the city, the Buck Center and some Partridge Knolls residents for over a year.

The letter invokes the California Public Records Act in seeking the geology report, along with other information about the city's involvement in the landslide issue. The letter also informs the City that a subsequent Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the Buck project is required, because of "substantial changes in circumstances relating to the environmental impacts of the project, increased severity of identified environmental impacts, the potential for substantial changes in the project itself as well as changes in, and failure of certain mitigation measures called for in the [original] EIR."

"We believe that under California law, the citizens are entitled to full information about the tragic landslide near the Buck Center," said attorney LeMieux. "We further believe that the implications of the land movement are so serious as to warrant an immediate halt to construction and a renewed environmental review of the project and its future on Mt. Burdell."

The Buck Center for Research in Aging is a sprawling $100 million research complex currently under construction in Novato. Plans call for using and storing infectious, hazardous and radioactive materials in laboratories situated on the unstable slopes of Mt. Burdell. The Committee to Save Mt. Burdell is a citizen organization that has long opposed the project.

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