A Sacramento developer appealed to the Sebastopol City Council on Tuesday to approve the design of its controversial proposal for a CVS Pharmacy and Chase Bank branch at one of the city’s busiest intersections.
“The efforts to stop this project with the denial of the design needs to stop tonight,” said Michelle Moore, an attorney for the developer, Armstrong Development Inc. of Sacramento.
Armstrong is asking the City Council to overturn the Design Review Board’s rejection of the project’s latest design, contending the design meets all requirements and the board erred in its denial.
The issue was being heard Tuesday in a public hearing that, after three hours, was continued until 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Armstrong is proposing to a 14,576-square-foot pharmacy and 4,327-square-foot bank branch on 2.4 acres at the site of the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership, at a cost of $10 million.
CVS and Chase would move to the new location, which is one of Sebastopol’s most prominent and heavily traveled intersections, from locations elsewhere in the city.
Critics, however, contend that even the latest design is still out of character with Sebastopol’s small town Main Street.
“The overriding, fundamental problem is site layout,” said Lynn Deedler, a member of the Design Review Board, who spoke before the council during the public testimony Tuesday night. “It is a suburban-style shopping center designed for cars and located in the center of town.”
Robert Beauchamp, another Design Review Board member, said that while Armstrong made a lot of revisions with things like color and reduced the height, it hasn’t solved the problem.
“It takes more than a brick to make a building,” Beauchamp said. “The height of the building is still a massive 26 feet, it is still a big box.”
The latest design by Sebastopol architect Kevin Kellogg was rejected by the Design Review Board on May 30, the board’s third rejection.
After the second rejection, Armstrong appealed to the City Council, but was sent back to the board by the City Council with a list of changes the council wanted.
In response, Kellogg redesigned the project, varying the roof heights, substituting a brick facade for of quasi-industrial metal siding, replacing parking with an larger plaza, installing clear glass windows and making the drive way on Petaluma Avenue one way into the complex.
“We believe this design is compatible with the Sebastopol neighborhood,” Kellogg said.
Supporters of the project also said it will bring additional revenue to Sebastopol and create jobs.
“The little bit of information I have about this project is it is likely to bring jobs, increase taxes and property taxes,” said Zilda McCausland of Sebastopol.
The public hearing will be continued and the City Council is expected to make a decision at a special council meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Community Center.
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.