By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The Sebastopol City Council is expected tonight to give final approval to the controversial CVS Pharmacy project but not before
giving opponents a platform for a last-minute effort to try to derail the proposal.
After a lengthy meeting Aug. 7, the council voted 3 to 2 to give the developer, Armstrong Development of Sacramento, design approval.
However, the council added two conditions: that a street entrance be provided at the corner of the CVS Pharmacy building to provide access to foot traffic, and that a one-way driveway be converted into a fire lane.
Tonight, the council is expected to adopt its findings, which overturns the denial by the Design Review Board and is one of the final steps paving the way for the project.
“Given all the time that we have put in on both sides, I would hope that they would accept the conditions,” Mayor Guy Wilson said.
Armstrong is proposing to build a 14,576-square-foot CVS Pharmacy and 4,327-square-foot Chase Bank branch at the site of the former Pellini Chevrolet dealership, which has been vacant for five years.
The $10 million project is on a 2.45-acre site at one of Sebastopol’s most prominent and most heavily traveled intersections.
Both CVS and Chase now are located at the Redwood Marketplace in Sebastopol.
Armstrong has redesigned the project three times at the request of the Design Review Board and the City Council but has not indicated whether it will accept the two new conditions.
“We have not heard any indication either way,” Planning Director Kenyon Webster said.
Armstrong Development officials did not return calls Monday.
Although the final approval may be a formality, Wilson said that public comment will be reopened and is expected to again be lengthy.
In the earlier vote, Wilson and council members Patrick Slayter and Kathleen Shaffer voted yes, while Vice Mayor Mike Kyes and Councilwoman Sarah Gurney were opposed.
The proposal has been one of the more controversial projects in Sebastopol, already subjected to two dozen meetings and hours of lengthy and often-emotional testimony.
The chief critic has been Small Town Sebastopol, which has filed suit in Sonoma County Superior Court challenging the adequacy of the environmental impact report because it doesn’t require a full traffic study.
The group also believes the design is not in character with the Main Street downtown feel of Sebastopol.
“I am urging people to show up and be prepared to speak,” said group founder Helen Shane. “My legal hat is there is no impact report and an authentic traffic study. The community hat is that it is a terrible project.”
Supporters of the project will be at the meeting as well.
“It is not like we are in love with CVS or Chase; it is that they are trying to do something meaningful with that corner,” said Dan Swedenborg of Sebastopol Citizens.
“There are people who want to go back 25 years and freeze this little town, with bicycles and pedestrians, even though it was never that way,” Swedenborg said. “Enough already, we need to move ahead. We appreciate the design changes they made.”
The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Sebastopol Community Center.
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.