Health club plan riles Berkeley Hills residents
Joseph Bartlett says he has trouble getting out of his driveway on a good day, so when he heard about a new gym proposed for the corner lot at the end of his street, he saw only more traffic on the way.
And he’s not the only one.
The Berkeley Hills Civic Association is opposing a request by Mark Dunlap of Valencia to build a health club along Sangree Road at Thompson Run Road in Ross.
Dunlap said he can’t understand why residents oppose the plan in which a women’s health club would replace a dilapidated house.
“It’s a women’s fitness center. I could put a bunch of other things on this property. I could put a body shop in there,” Dunlap said. “We decided this would be perfect for this site. The tree lines are all staying. That will increase property value. That (existing) building hasn’t been touched in 40 years.
The proposal will go before the zoning hearing board at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Ross municipal center, 1000 Ross Municipal Drive. The land is zoned for residential or light commercial development, but the as-yet unnamed gym must get approval from the board.
Civic Association member Kris Johnson said the gym would be detrimental to the already congested neighborhood.
“There’s a school bus stop on the corner. We already have Sangree Park down the street. We think it will lower our property values,” she said.
Neighbors say the neighborhood already is congested because of two community parks, two churches and a bar/restaurant. A 20-home development is under construction on the former Schlag Farm along Sangree Road. And, residents say, people use the road to get from heavily traveled McKnight Road to Thompson Run Road.
Ward 2 Ross Commissioner William Grady said he has been recommending that people attend the public meetings on the issue. If the zoning hearing board approves the plan, it would go before the commissioners.
Grady said that while his constituents are incensed, the situation could be worse.
“This plan would probably be better than a 7-Eleven or a gas station, but that doesn’t make it any easier on the people,” Grady said.
Sylvia Malush, who lives a street over on Cherrington Drive, said she worries traffic will go up and property values will go down if the gym is built.
“Houses here, they sell in a couple hours to a couple days,” she said. “They’re at a premium.”
Houses in the area range in value from $100,000 to $200,000, according to county real estate assessments.
Jan Falcona said she worries about additional traffic in a neighborhood full of children.
“There are tons of children under 5 who are home,” she said. “Several people home-school. A lot of kids go to private schools. There are kids roaming the neighborhood on any given day, and there is all summer, too.”
She said she would organize a boycott of the gym if it goes through.
“They are looking for people in my demographic,” she said. “I would petition the whole North Hills area.”
Dunlap said if he lived in the neighborhood, he wouldn’t complain about the plan.
“I’d complain about a body shop. We’re not doing that,” Dunlap said. “People drink at that bar, and they drive on those streets, and they’re complaining about a health clubâ¢ We’re trying to improve that corner.”