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SAN JOSE, CA-Software firm Cisco Systems and developer Divco West say they plan to break ground on Cisco’s hotly debated $1.3 billion Coyote Valley Research Park by year’s end. The news follows the San Jose City Council’s final seal of approval last week for the 6.6 million-sf campus slated for 688 acres in San Jose’s North Coyote Valley. Cisco is the city’s largest employer.

The project has drawn the wrath of environmentalists and neighboring cities who say the 20,000-worker campus will worsen traffic and pollution as well as hike up rents. Indeed, the project may well be headed for the courtroom. The neighboring cities of Salinas and Monterey have threatened legal action to stop the project. Opponents have a Nov. 22 deadline to file suit.

In an attempt to allay fears on the part of more tech-savvy critics, Cisco has set up a specific website dedicated to providing information about the project. The site, located at http://www.c-v-r-p.com, assures visitors that the campus will co-exist with the environment by protecting as open space a total of 310 acres near the development. In a nod to worsening traffic in Silicon Valley, a CalTrain commuter stop will be built on the campus.

In addition, Cisco estimates that it will annually provide $2.8 billion in tax revenue for San Jose, plus $167 million in annual local and state tax revenue. The firm must also spend $1 billion to extend the necessary infrastructure to its project like roads, water, sewer and electricity.

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