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Loud Walls
West Valley--Neighbors of Highway 85 from Cupertino to Los Gatos can think about taking their fingers out of their ears now. The Board of Supervisors approved $9 million for a pilot project to hush the noisy six-mile stretch of road which, a 1996 study shows, owes its volume to the grooved concrete pavement and ill-conceived high sound walls. Solutions under inspection include limiting the speed to 55mph, staggering the sound walls, building higher ones or resurfacing the highway with something quiet like a rubberized asphalt overlay. Caltrans officials fear the latter solution literally won't stick: the 85 concrete might be too new to adhere to the safer, quieter overlay.

Nary a Dairy
Monte Sereno--It's been two years since the Claravale Dairy shut down, but the spirit of the last dairy farm in the valley only truly expired in May with the death of owner Ken Peake. Now the old farm is being sold off--most of the 12 acres has already been bought and graded--and soon caretaker Martha Sanchez will have to hunt for a new home, along with Peake's golden retriever, Chien, his cat, Woody, and a dozen chickens. Neighbor Alan Aertz gets first right of refusal on the acre-and-a-half property, which is being marketed at $1.5 million.

Monster Mess
Willow Glen--Hard to tell which is worse, living with monster homes or wrestling with the ordinance intended to shrink their pink-stuccoed carcasses down to size. A public hearing to discuss the proposed design review law has been pushed back for the fourth time in as many months--this time to Aug. 11. Planners are struggling with several design review schemes, including one in which certain trigger factors would prompt review and another in which historic neighborhoods would have specific design mandates.

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Web extras to the July 15-21, 1999 issue of Metro.

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