A weed-strewn lot near the Windsor Town Green, one of the last of two undeveloped downtown parcels, could soon be home to a four-story apartment building with retail space on the ground floor.
Projects by private landowners to boost salmon and other fish populations in North Coast streams are set to receive an additional $2 million this year from an arm of the federal government. Federal and local officials on Friday announced the commitment of new grant money for six major river basins stretching from Sonoma County — and including the Russian River — to Eureka, in Humboldt County.
Windsor, a town that once worried about rampant growth, has seen residential construction slow dramatically, to the point that no new homes have been built this year. But when the economy improves, that could change quickly with the backlog of 1,200 dwelling units with tentative and final approvals.
Windsor residents will be able to install water-saving measures, fixtures and appliances without upfront cost or taking on debt. Financed by the town, the program allows homeowners and renters to pay for the upgrades over five to 15 years with a surcharge on their utility bill. Officials say the amount customers save on their bills by cutting water consumption will more than offset the bi-monthly surcharge to pay for things such as high-efficiency washing machines, toilets, showerheads, on-demand hot-water recirculation pumps, and turf replacement.
A surge in the number of apartments proposed in Windsor is giving pause to some Town Council members and prompting soul searching on whether the high-density projects will alter the town character. About 1,150 apartment dwellings are currently proposed, prompting questions whether Windsor can handle that many built in a short period and whether the influx of renters will create a different sense of community than comes with home ownership.
Windsor water and sewer rates are poised to rise by 9 percent in September, but the average bill will still be among the lowest for cities in Sonoma County. Windsor’s typical bill will go from the current $85.45 a month to $94.13. Only Rohnert Park, at an average $92, would be lower, according to a survey conducted by Windsor’s consultant. But some people also are going to start having to pay to irrigate with Windsor’s recycled wastewater.
Big crowds for summer night concerts on Windsor’s Town Green haven’t translated to more customers for adjacent restaurants, and the Town Council wants to help. Council members on Wednesday discussed ways to increase patronage for surrounding business, including possibly closing another street to cars to allow local restaurants to set up food booths.
A proposed county-wide ban on carry-out plastic bags gained a little more traction this week as Windsor became the second city in Sonoma County to endorse the idea. The council unanimously agreed that discontinuing use of the plastic bags, which are ubiquitous at grocery stores, is good for the environment and reducing litter.
When most city streets were designed, garbage trucks were smaller and made fewer trips. Now, as financially strapped cities experience a proliferation of potholes, garbage trucks are getting renewed scrutiny to see if the companies that own them should be contributing more to fix streets.
Windsor council members don’t have control over where a new school will go, but they voiced strong objections Wednesday to building one on the town’s periphery — and questioned whether it’s even needed. “It will create a circulation nightmare,” Councilwoman Robin Goble said of the controversial Jensen Lane Elementary School.