By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Before all the political bickering over City Hall appointments began Monday night, the new Petaluma City Council managed to take care of some city business.
The council unanimously approved a property swap with Regency Centers, which is building a Target shopping center on East Washington Street along Highway 101.
The two-part agreement calls for Regency to turn over to the city without compensation property easements for the Highway 101-East Washington interchange valued at $546,000.
That will allow the city to avoid costly and time-consuming eminent domain proceedings, which it had begun as the parties negotiated.
In turn, the city will transfer its right-of-way to Johnson Drive near the city’s swim center to Regency for access to its shopping center.
The city’s 2004 contract with Regency states that Regency would pay the city the fair market value of the Johnson Driver land unless the project was approved with housing. But as the project went through the city approval process in the ensuing years, the city asked Regency to remove the housing component.
City Attorney Eric Danly said there was disagreement as to what the contract would require as far as payment to the city, given the changes to the project since the original agreement was drafted.
“I know this is kind of mind-numbingly complex,” Healy said. “But I think this is a very elegant solution to a tricky problem.”
The easement and right-of-way agreements may be the “final hurdle” for Regency before it applies for final building permits for the 34-acre shopping center, City Manager John Brown said.
The center, to be called East Washington Place, could open in 2012.
The council also unanimously selected Mike Healy as vice mayor for 2011. Healy, a Stanford-educated engineer turned lawyer, is serving his third stint on the council. He was first elected in 1998, then reelected four years later. After losing in a mayoral bid in 2006, he was elected to the council again in 2008.
Newly seated Mayor David Glass said Tiffany Renee is in line to serve as vice mayor next year, with new Councilman Chris Albertson slated for the seat in 2013. The vice mayor conducts meetings in the absence of the mayor.
Healy had his vice mayor nameplate ready when the vote was finalized Monday.
“I’m not sure if that’s from when I served before or if it was a new one,” he joked Tuesday.