The Battle for Walpert Ridge

A lawsuit over a proposed Hayward country club promises to be more than just another environmentalists-vs.-developers fight

"The negotiations [with Hayward 1900] included some key features in the area of the golf course and one rock outcropping because it was important to the snake. We did a lot of fine-tuning."

But Professor Rohlf of Lewis and Clark's environmental law clinic says he doesn't think the Blue Rock scenario is all that unique. "This happens all the time," he says. "I've talked to a lot of these biologists. The biologists at the service say that the project will harm the species, and they write a jeopardy opinion. It goes to the developer and the developer goes ballistic, so they bring all sorts of pressure to bear on the Fish and Wildlife Service. Then they make a few cosmetic changes here and there, and then, magically, it's no longer jeopardy."

Meanwhile, Steve Miller, president of Hayward 1900, says his company has suggested multiple mitigation factors that will, in his mind, make Walpert Ridge an even more attractive place for the endangered snake and frog. "We'll create a better [environment]," he insists. "When people look at the whole history of the project, they'll see that this is a very sensitive project, sensitive for the species, creating a community, a school for children. We're not really the developers. We're the guys that put this project together for the biologists and for the city."

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