Reconfigured “footprint” announced last fall will reduce
impacts on wetlands while supporting full development of campus and community
MERCED, CA— The University of California,
Merced said today (March 13) it has submitted a revised permit
application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the
full development of its campus and associated University Community.
The revised application reflects modifications in the
“footprint” of the combined developments, which the university
announced in October 2007. The reconfigured layout will reduce
impacts on wetlands by more than 33 percent while supporting full
development of the campus and contiguous community, primarily
housing and support services for the university.
USACE has jurisdiction over federally protected wetlands and
must issue a development permit under Section 404 of the U.S. Clean
“We are very pleased to move ahead with this revised application
and begin the public review process,” said Steve Kang, UC Merced
chancellor. “The modified footprint we announced last fall was
widely regarded as a major step forward in the complex federal
permitting process. The slightly repositioned design will enable
the university to develop to its full potential and serve the vital
needs of the region and state while significantly reducing impacts
Local officials welcome the revised permitting strategy employed
by the university, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive
long-term planning both for the campus and the region.
Congressman Dennis Cardoza said, “I commend the University for
submitting an application that meets the long-term needs of the
University while at the same time meeting the regulatory
requirements. We should all keep an eye on the primary goal - to
build a world class public research university befitting of the
Central Valley. This permit, which delineates the physical
boundaries of the campus plan, will allow the University to
continue planning for the future.”
Kathleen Crookham, chairman of the Merced County Board of
Supervisors added: “The University has developed a revised campus
plan in response to concerns voiced by federal agencies, and the
County remains committed to working with the University to reflect
these revisions into the County’s General Plan.”
Added Bill Cahill, assistant city manager of Merced: “Obtaining
the permit will allow UC Merced to expand its educational mission
and further its research goals, benefiting Merced and the entire
region. UC Merced is poised to play a bigger role as an economic
engine in the Valley.”
Kang said the application has been reviewed by USACE and deemed
“complete,” allowing the public review process to begin this
spring. Public hearings and comment opportunities will be scheduled
and announced by USACE.
In addition, UC Merced will host a public forum on campus to
give community members a closer look at its long-term development
plans, which will support as many as 25,000 students by 2035.
Preliminary plans for the University Community, positioned directly
south of the campus, will also be discussed. The session will be
held Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. in the California
Room on campus.
For the first time, UC Merced’s revised application includes
both the campus and the northern portion of the University
Community, which is jointly owned by the Virginia Smith Trust and
the University of California. (LWH Farms, LLC owns the southern
portion of the University Community.) The original applications,
submitted in 2002, did not include the University Community because
plans were not complete at that time.
“Combining the two developments into a single application
provides a clear picture of their symbiotic relationship and why
it’s vitally important that they be positioned on contiguous
sites,” said Kang.
As announced last fall, the revised campus layout will total
approximately 810 acres, compared with the previous plan of 910
acres. The University Community, situated directly south of the
campus, will total approximately 2,115 acres, compared with 2,133
acres in the original plan. The total for the University Community
is 45 acres less than announced last fall.
By shifting the campus layout slightly south and the University
Community slightly south and east, the new design will reduce
impacts on wetlands by more than 33 percent (approximately 80 acres
versus 121 in the previous design) on a modestly smaller combined
footprint. Campus officials believe repositioned facilities,
increased density and other measures will compensate for the
reduction in total acreage.
“The new configuration actually strengthens the
interrelationships among synergistic elements of the campus and
University Community,” said Thomas Lollini, campus architect.
“Examples include research and development activities, and cultural
and recreational venues.”
Construction activities on the current phase of campus
development are not affected by the revised plans. The 105-acre
parcel now under development can accommodate up to 5,000 students.
Enrollment to date totals just under 2,000 students.
The University Community will include a research park,
residential, commercial and retail buildings, schools,
entertainment venues, parks, trails and support services for campus
operations. Plans for the project are being developed by the
University Community Land Company, LLC, which is jointly owned by
the University of California and the Virginia Smith Trust.
As managing member of the UCLC, the University will seek an
amendment to the University Community Plan through the County of
Merced, the land-use governing authority, to accommodate the
A joint Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Study
for both the campus and the northern portion of the University
Community will also be prepared. Public hearings will be part of
the review and approval process, expected to take 12-14 months.
Development of wetlands acreage in the modified design will be
fully offset by mitigation measures, as required under the U.S.
Clean Water Act, to ensure “no net loss” of wetlands values and
functions, the university said. In addition, approximately 2,318
acres of in-kind wetland habitat will be set aside for permanent
preservation, a ratio of 30 acres preserved for every acre of
UC Merced’s revised application is available at the