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Albany City Council Approves Controversial Gill Tract Development

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Police monitor activity outside Gill Tract in Albany after putting up barricades, May 9, 2012. (CBS)

Police monitor activity outside Gill Tract in Albany after putting up barricades, May 9, 2012. (CBS)

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ALBANY (KCBS) – The Albany City Council has approved a controversial plan to bring retail and a senior housing facility to the UC-owned Gill Tract, land which was taken over by members of Occupy the Farm for three weeks this spring.

The University Village Mixed Use Project would occupy more than six acres and does not include any land currently used for agricultural research. It would include a senior housing complex, mixed retail center and a Whole Foods Market.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

At a city council meeting on Monday night, the majority of those who spoke voiced their displeasure with the plan, calling it “corporate expansion.”

But UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said this is something that works for the community.

“The proposal for that land was to develop in concert with the community and it’s there for the benefit of the community,” Mogulof said. “That’s a food store they want. Anybody that lives here knows it’s really hard to find quality food shopping here.”

Mogulof said the school wants to use revenue from the University Mixed Use Project to keep rents low for student residents.

The Occupy the Farm movement began in late April when members of the community and Occupy movement broke into the Gill Tract to show that the land should be used for public good. The encampment was raided in May but several members of the group returned this past weekend to try to harvest some of the crops they had planted during the occupation.

UC uses most of the Gill Tract to plant crops for the study of plant biology and pathology.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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