By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The CVS Pharmacy development, Sebastopol’s most hotly debated project over the past two years, finally has received a design approval, its last major hurdle.
In a 3-2 vote, the City Council early Wednesday morning approved the final design for the project by Armstrong Development of Sacramento, overturning the Design Review Board’s rejection.
“Democracy doesn’t guarantee that you get what you want, but we have at least guaranteed that everyone got heard,” Mayor Guy Wilson said. “I realize that many people may not be happy with the outcome, but we followed the law.”
Armstrong Development plans 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 since it closed in 2009.
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 at the Redwood Marketplace in Sebastopol.
The proposal has been subjected to two dozen meetings by the Planning Commission, Design Review Board and City Council and countless hours of debate.
Critics complained the project is a suburban-style shopping mall that is out of character with Main Street Sebastopol, not in keeping with the spirit of the city’s General Plan and will worsen traffic.
Supporters said the businesses will generate tax revenue and jobs and Armstrong has followed all of the rules and meets all of the city’s planning guidelines.
While the heavy lifting now might be done, the project and the controversy is not going away.
The City Council retains jurisdiction over some final design details that will bring the developer back.
The council conditioned its approval on Armstrong providing an entrance at the corner of the building at Petaluma and Sebastopol avenues.
Armstrong also must add more architectural detailing to the bank building and convert an in-only driveway into a fire lane.
Armstrong Vice President Bill McDermott said the company accepted the conditions and would bring back the redesigns in late September or early October.
The project still faces a lawsuit filed in Sonoma County Superior Court by opponents Small Town Sebastopol challenging the adequacy of the project’s environmental impact report because it did not include a separate traffic study.
“I think we will see significant more time involved on the council level, simply because we have retained jurisdiction,” said Councilman Patrick Slayter. “Obviously, the project is very important to many people and they are interested in it and it is the council’s duty to listen to those people.”
Slayter, Wilson and Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer voted for the project. Vice Mayor Mike Kyes and Councilwoman Sarah Gurney voted no. In what has become typical of the council deliberations regarding CVS, the vote was taken at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday, after more than six hours of debate that began at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.