By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Sebastopol City Council took more public comment Thursday on the controversial proposal for a CVS Pharmacy and Chase bank branch, but deferred making a decision for another three weeks.
Mayor Guy Wilson said the council will withhold deliberations until the Aug. 7 meeting because of the large amount of testimony, letters and emails that have been received.
Armstrong Development Inc. of Sacramento is asking the City Council to overturn the May 30 action by the Design Review Board that denied the project’s latest design.
Armstrong is proposing to build a 14,576-square-foot pharmacy and 4,327-square-foot bank branch at the site of the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership, one of the city’s most prominent and busiest intersections.
CVS and Chase would move to the 2.4-acre site from locations elsewhere in the city.
The city has given all necessary approvals for the $10 million project, except for an approved design.
Armstrong contends that it has redesigned the project according to the council’s direction and that it now meets all of the conditions set by the council. It says the Design Review Board erred by rejecting the latest proposal.
Critics, however, contend that even the latest proposal is still a suburban-style shopping center that is out of character with Sebastopol’s small-town Main Street.
“This is a parking lot with a couple of buildings on it,” said Paul Fritz of Sebastopol. “The problem is the site design. It is not acceptable, it doesn’t fit in our downtown.”
Fritz was one of 60 speakers at Thursday’s hearing, a continuation of the public hearing that lasted for three hours on Tuesday.
Linda Johnson of Sebastopol defended the project, saying that it falls far short of being considered a big box store.
“I like the design,” Johnson said. “They have spent 2½ years making changes to meet the city’s concerns.”
The latest design by Sebastopol architect Kevin Kellogg has varied roof heights, a brick facade instead of quasi-industrial metal siding, less parking and a larger plaza, clear glass windows and a one-way entrance driveway on Petaluma Avenue.
However, that design also was rejected by the Design Review Board on May 30, which is the subject of this appeal.