A University of California proposal to develop a grocery store and senior housing complex at moved one step closer to completion Monday night.
The voted 4-1 to approve three ordinances the university needed to move forward with the project.
The development is proposed to straddle Monroe Street, west of San Pablo Avenue, with a Whole Foods grocery store to the north and a 175-unit senior housing complex to the south.
, who teleconferenced in to the meeting, was the sole dissenting vote.
The rest of the City Council voted to approve , which were related to municipal zoning codes and the city's development agreement with the university.
The council last week.
Five members of the public spoke in favor of the development plans, while 10 spoke against them, or urged the council to approve a motion by Councilman Lieber to protect the existing agricultural lands with an easement. (Lieber's motion failed due to a lack of support from the rest of the council.)
Some members of the public said the city had failed to listen to or take into account community concerns about the development.
One speaker, Hinhan-Ska Haney of United Native Americans Inc., said the city should consider turning over the land to the Ohlone people, and urged the council to consider endorsing the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as one way to recognize Native American heritage in Albany.
(Lieber later in the meeting directed city staff to bring the declaration back before the council to determine whether it should be considered by the city's Social & Economic Justice Commission.)
Some members of the public continued to express concern about the future of the agricultural fields known as the Gill Tract.
said she and were in the midst of scheduling an open meeting on that topic for later this month, and had invited members of Occupy the Farm, the and to attend.
Wile said she'd like to work toward the development of a center for urban agriculture on the land.
She said, as of Monday night, she had received no response to the invitation. The meeting format would involve a discussion among city and university officials, along with members of the groups noted above, about the future of the agricultural land.
Other interested members of the public are welcome to attend to observe the discussion, said Wile.
Thomsen, in her comments to the council Monday, said the city remains committed to working with the university to come up with a vision for the Gill Tract's future.
She referenced a July 16 letter from the university in which UC officials wrote that they, too, hoped to work with the city "on issues pertaining to the Gill Tract agricultural area."
"We hope community groups will participate as well," Thomsen added.
Gerhard Brostrom, a member of Transition Albany, told the council that the sustainability advocacy group supports Occupy the Farm and the Albany Farm Alliance "insofar as they have opened a discussion" about community agriculture.
He said he hoped to see community members work together to come up with a shared vision for the land, rather than splinter apart due to divisions.
"We're happy to see so many people caring about this," he said, during the public comment period.
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