The city of Sebastopol and the people behind stalled plans for a new downtown CVS drugstore and adjacent JPMorgan Chase Bank have entered into legal negotiations in hopes of resolving a pending federal lawsuit, attorneys involved in the case said Thursday.
The Sebastopol City Council, with the controversial CVS Pharmacy project still casting a shadow over downtown, is adding a chain store ban and solar energy requirements as possible ways to preserve the community’s identity and shape new development.
‘As the city grows and develops and learns, there is a lack of clarity in what the city wants future growth to look like, and it is important the council become pro-active,’ said Vice Mayor Robert Jacob. ‘It is very clear our town wants to maintain its unique, small-town identity.’
Only nine votes separate two candidates vying for the final seat on the Sebastopol City Council, a race that may not be decided for days. ‘We will just see what happens,’ said Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer. ‘I do want to see what the final vote count is.’ Shaffer trails challenger John Eder by nine votes in the contest for her seat. Robert Jacob, 35, led the voting with 28.9 percent, assuring himself of the seat vacated by Mayor Guy Wilson, who did not seek re-election.
The controversial CVS Pharmacy project, already subjected to two dozen meetings and hours of public debate over a two-year span, received final approval after midnight Wednesday by the City Council. In a 3 to 2 vote, the council approved the final design for project by Armstrong Development of Sacramento, overturning an earlier rejection by the Design Review Board to design approval.
Early Wednesday, the Sebastopol City Council, by a split 3-2 vote, allowed the controversial Chase/CVS development to go forward, with a couple of conditions. However, the struggle against Chase/CVS is far from over, for at least two main reasons — a pending lawsuit and the upcoming City Council elections. Opponents continue organizing to prevent these two major corporations from anchoring the downtown commons.
A CVS Pharmacy and a Chase Bank branch finally received the go-ahead from the Sebastopol City Council after one of the most contentious debates over the city’s identity in decades. A Sacramento developer’s plan for one of Sebastopol’s busiest intersections was passionately discussed down to the last minute, winning at about 12:15 a.m. Wednesday on a narrow 3-2 vote after four hours of discussion.
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.