Burlingame has mercy on sisters 

Prayers were answered for Mercy High School officials, while neighbors are not pleased over a compromise stemming from noise and traffic complaints associated with events on campus.

The City Council on Wednesday night issued rules for the school to follow, including prohibiting outdoor amplified music and installing sound monitoring devices. Also, the council placed a cap on the number of events allowed to 125 a year. Weekend events will have to end at 11 p.m. and weekday events at 10 p.m.

However, neighbors say the number of events should be restricted to about 50 a year. Traffic is a constant problem and some events run too late, they say. Linda Abbey, who lives within a few hundred feet of the school, questioned whether the city was biased in favor of the school. She has collected more than 100 signatures asking for more stringent regulations. Nearby resident Jill Harmon said there was no compromise in this decision.

"I think they were given a pass," she said. "With cars today, there are no neighborhood streets that allow parking on both sides and traffic going back and forth. As far as noise is concerned, I can sit in the breakfast room in our house and feel vibrations from noise coming from Mercy. Look, no one’s trying to pick a fight. Maybe the noise monitoring will work out best for all of us."

Mercy High School, on 2750 Adeline Drive offers its grounds to private events such as weddings to raise funds. The school voluntarily approached the city last year to update its conditionaluse permit, which initially was issued by the county before the city acquired the area in 1979.

"We feel they are very acceptable compromise conditions," said Jean Hastie, the campus executive director. "The sisters at Mercy High School have always been good neighbors and we want to continue to be good neighbors."

Language in the permit has yet to be worked out, but is expected to be formally approved by the council in two weeks. It will go before the Planning Commission next year for review, Councilwoman Cathy Baylock said.

"I think the important thing is that Mercy put a limit on the number of events," she said. "That ends up being about two and a half events a week over the course of the year."

In an odd turn of events Wednesday night, three council members had to recuse themselves from the issue. Mayor Terry Nagel and Councilwoman Ann Keighran reside near the campus while Councilman Russ Cohen’s wife worked at the school. Because three council members by law have to vote on it, the three drew straws and Keighran was selected to sit on the council and vote.

"The neighbors have brought up some valid concerns and we’ve tweaked a few conditions," Keighran said. "Traffic there has increased, but not all of it is from Mercy."

bfoley@examiner.com

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