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Final decision coming for Sebastopol CVS project



After two years, 25 public meetings, hours of sometimes acrimonious debate and under a cloud of potential lawsuits, the Sebastopol City Council on Tuesday is

The Pellini Chevrolet building in Sebastopol is the site of the proposed CVS Pharmacy/Chase Bank. (PD FILE, 2010)

expected to make a final decision on the controversial CVS Pharmacy project.

“It is a conspicuous location, different members of the community have differing expectations of how that space should be utilized, and people care a lot,” said Mayor Guy Wilson.

Armstrong Development of Sacramento is proposing to build a 14,576-square-foot CVS Pharmacy and 4,327-square-foot Chase bank branch at the site of the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership on one of the city’s most prominent intersections.

CVS and Chase would move to the 2.4-acre site from locations elsewhere in the city.

The City Council has given all necessary approvals for the $10 million project, including approving a negative declaration of environmental impacts — except for an approved design.

The debate has raged over whether the impact report should have included a full traffic study, whether the design fits with Sebastopol’s Main Street character and whether the city should take into account alleged corporate malfeasance by CVS and Chase.

The council finds itself in the unusual position of being involved in the design process, the final approval necessary before construction can move ahead.

“The issue is completely about the design, it is downtown and it needs to fit in,” said Vice Mayor Michael Kyes. “The city has a business plan, and the plan is to design a downtown that is attractive for its residents and tourists. The pharmacy and bank are perfectly legitimate businesses to put downtown. What we need to decide is have they developed a project that fits in with the rest of the downtown.”

In this, the fourth design, Sebastopol architect Kevin Kellogg varied roof heights, added a brick facade instead of quasi-industrial metal siding, removed some parking, created a larger plaza, added clear glass windows and gave the driveway a one-way entrance.

The changes were made at the request of the City Council in February, but the redesign was still rejected by the Design Review Board on May 30. Board members said the project still looked like a shopping center-style complex with two buildings and a large parking lot.

Armstrong contends, however, that it has met all of the guidelines set down by the council and is asking the council to overturn that rejection.

“I think we have satisfied a lot of people who were critical of the project,” Kellogg said. “There are some critics that are taking a hard line against the project, there is no compromise and it seems to be a philosophical point of view rather than working within the parameters of the design review guidelines.”

Regardless of how the council acts Tuesday, there is the possibility of litigation.

The Committee for Small Town Sebastopol already has filed a suit challenging the environmental impact report, contending that it failed to include a full study on the impact on traffic at that already-congested intersection.

“The real issue is that a proper traffic report was not done, so the council and the public did not have all the facts to make a good decision,” said committee spokeswoman Helen Shane. “I believe that had a traffic study been done, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Armstrong Development and CVS have had a stenographer at the last Design Review Board and City Council meetings, and could also sue the city if the council doesn’t uphold its appeal

“We have invested a lot of time and resources in this project,” said CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis. “At the end of the day, we want to be treated fairly.”

The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Community Center.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.

10 Responses to “Final decision coming for Sebastopol CVS project”

  1. Chuck G says:

    What will be the store hours for CVS?

    Maybe their’s a prescription for all the reasons why a CVS shouldn’t be there, can’t wait!

  2. John Angus says:


  3. Sebastopol Marty says:

    I was not shocked by the Bliss comment. It shows the length that Small minded Sebastopol will go to stop a project. Comparing CVS/ Chase to the Third Reich and KKK is above the Pale.

  4. David Wells says:

    Again, what do you care? If you need a CVS, we already have on. If you need more conveniece store cause your just to damn lazy to go another five miles in any direction, stay in Santa Rosa or wherever you are. The fact that you don’t understand what the people of Sebastopol are concerned with means you arent living in here with the traffic problems already plaguing this small town. Your ignorance shines brightly with the “hippie” comments, but I’m sure your used to that.

  5. Reality Check says:

    CVS knew what they were getting into when they started down this path. They may have hoped for an easy time, but Sebastopol’s land use policies are well known to applicants.

    If this is what the good citizens of Sebastopol want, so be it. Property owners too have a choice. Long ago people who demand the right to do just what they want with their land sold and went elsewhere.

    Apparently, for some the benefits of business in Sebastopol outweigh the costs.

  6. J.R. Wirth says:

    As I said a year ago, if CVS would just paint a giant peace sign on the side of the building (using a local artist) and donate a five figure sum to Greenpeace this whole thing could have been avoided.

    You move into a stinking hippie neighborhood you play by stinking hippie rules. It’s the cost of doing business. A few solar panels on the roof wouldn’t hurt either.

  7. Snarky says:

    So, I ask again, why doesn’t the Press Democrat publish the employment history (or lack thereof) of the bureaucrats dictating how people use their own private property?

    By the way , “Local,” you should apply for a government job. They love your dictatorship type of thinking. LOL.

  8. local says:

    We already have a CVS in Sebastopol in a strip mall where it belongs. That corner on what is trying to be a lovely town square is not the right place for a massive corporate drug store. Please find something with character and a local tie to put there.

  9. Grapevines says:

    If CVS wants to get this project approved with all of Sebastopol getting behind it, just announce that they will be dispensing “medical marijuana” at the pharmacy.

    They’ll be lined up around the block on opening day.

  10. Snarky says:

    TWO years and 25 public meetings over this tiny issue?

    Leave it to the government. LOL.