Sid Corrie was the developer who originally considered 4200 houses for his properties in Tassajara Valley back in 1998. Those were the numbers thrown around by Seth Adams from the "No on Measure W" campaign, but those figures are totally obsolete since Corrie changed his plans from houses to burial plots in 2005.
Corrie is very proud of his proposed cemetery and considers it an improvement of the existing property. "It looks like a moonscape out there," Corrie told me over the phone, "We've been running cattle out there for many years." he explained.
Twelve years ago Curt Kinney was looking for a cemetery to bury his daughter who died suddenly on her wedding day. In February of 2004, the San Ramon City Council appointed Curt Kinney to the Tri-Valley Cemetery Task Force. The four cities in the Tri-Valley were looking for a place for eternal rest.
Kinney asked Sid Corrie, who owned several hundred acres of land in Tassajara Valley, about building a cemetery on some of his property. That started Corrie on a five-year quest to turn 200 acres of his property in Tassajara Valley into a cemetery for the Tri-Valley.
Corrie Development gave a presentation to the San Ramon City Council on Creekside Memorial Park at the Council's May 24, 2005 meeting. Corrie asked the City Council to adopt a resolution to encourage Contra Costa County to approve the project. San Ramon, Danville, Dublin, and Pleasanton each passed a resolution supporting the need for a local cemetery.
Now, after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an Environmental Impact Report, Corrie predicts the County Supervisors will vote to accept his cemetery plans by the middle of next year.
"We are requesting a use change not a zoning change, but we are going through the process as if it was a zoning change," Corrie told me in a meeting earlier today. Even though the property is 200 acres, only 60 acres will be developed. The surrounding 140 acres will be left open space.
Corrie gave me a copy of his plans for Creekside Memorial Park dated December 15, 2005, along with the Project Location and Description section from an Admin Draft of the EIR. This draft EIR took three years to complete.
"One and a half years was spent on water." Corrie said. "We are using a well that never goes dry. When they have shortages in Livermore, they drive up there to take water from that well."
Corrie's water sources are approved for the first three phases. If he cannot find more by phase 4, the County would require a "green landscape," or drought tolerant plants instead of grass.
Corrie considers the term "green landscape" inappropriate. He called it a desert landscape. However, it can be very attractive if done well. Two of my neighbors have drought tolerant front yards, and I'm planning to put one in later this year.
Corrie believes his cemetery would keep housing developments out of Tassajara Valley because, "Nobody wants to live near a cemetery."
Corrie was surprised to hear that Tom Koch is planning a small cemetery for the New Farm development just north of Creekside Memorial Park.
Corrie and Koch are not friends, but Corrie considers Koch "very smart" and good at what he does. Corrie felt that Koch will be better off under County Control than if Measure W had passed.
Corrie is already within the zoning laws in Contra Costa County, so he didn't care one way of the other about Measure W, but he couldn't understand why voters in San Ramon would prefer four County Supervisors with no attachment to San Ramon controlling Tassajara Valley over our own Mayor and City Council.
Stay tuned for Koch's side of the Tassajara Valley story in Part 2 next month.