After many meetings, my concerns are still the same as when the first DEIR was circulated, the proposed hotel, with only a small portion of existing pond remaining, will result in habitat loss that can't be mitigated. The environmental botanist said the established colony of herons and others birds will leave the area as though it was not a significant loss. All the large trees will be removed to be replaced with boxed small trees that will take many years to achieve the height of the existing trees. The new modified hotel rebuild will have more hardscape, fewer trees and greenscape and resembles a freeway hotel in Bakersfield or any urban area.
In March 2015 when the DEIR was circulated, I asked the commissioners to keep the pond habitat to protect the established colony of Black-Crowned Night Herons. My request is as valid today as when the first DEIR was first published. Destruction of the pond habitat is a violation of the Migratory Bird Act.
The Environmental Impact Report, Section 4.3 Biological Resources for the Best Western Corte Madera Inn Rebuild states that no listed species of birds of were found by their consulting environmental biologist, Zentner and Zentner, page 133 of 770. This is in disagreement with the Audubon Christmas 2014 Bird Count which identified a stable colony of 23 Black-crowned Night- Herons, Nycticorax nycticoras, a species listed on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, (Federal Register/Vol. 78, No. 212/Friday, November 1, 2013/Rules and Regulations, page 11 of 22).
At the pond, there were two additional species counted. They are also listed on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a pair of Black-neck Stilts, Himantopus Mexicanus (page 13 of 22 Federal Register/Vol. 78, No 212) and several Common Goldeneye, Bucephala clangula (page 10 of 22).
The DEIR states there is no significant impact to species or habitat. They claim that mitigation will compensate for any possible “take” of birds or their nests (page 19 of 770, table 2.2). Given that the “take” of listed birds is a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is not in compliance with federal and state laws protecting Black-crowned Night Herons, their nests and habitat, and other listed birds, destruction of the pond would be extremely significant, particularly to the birds affected.
As stated in the EIR, Town of Corte Madera, Policy CD-1.2. “Require residential, non-residential and infrastructure design that respects natural areas and ecosystems within Corte Madera.” Destruction of habitat for a stable colony of birds listed on the MBTA is not consistent with respecting “ecosystems within Corte Madera.”
The established colony of Black-Crowned Night Herons have increased in number to 35 since the previous Christmas Bird Count in spite of the degradation of the pond environment. To destroy this roost is cruel and a willful destruction of a valuable environmental resource.
Commissioners, please don't allow the destruction of the pond habitat to build a another mundane, unappealing freeway hotel. The proposed tiny portion of pond, while encouraging to see an attempt to appease the pond advocates, is more of an afterthought.
My primary concern is for the destruction of pond habitat but the repeated comments that the revised hotel design is "Arts and Crafts Architecture" is inaccurate. The design is composed of large, imposing, boxy buildings with a little white "gingerbread" trim added. That design does not make the architecture "Arts and Crafts." Corte Madera has many wonderful assets, it deserves better architecture for this focal point of the town.
(EIR References: Pg. 133 of 770: Zentner and Zentner, 2013. Corte Madera Inn Pond, Section 404 Jurisdictional Delineation, Project No. 611 CMI, Prepared for Corte Madera Inn c/o Reneson Hotel Group, May.
Zentner and Zentner, 2013a. Corte Madera Inn, Biotic Resources Assessment, July. Zentner and Zentner, 2014, Avian Survey and Assessment, Corte Madera Inn Pond, Corte Madera, CA, prepared for Reneson Hotel Group, August. ")