A move to add controversial limits on development and vineyard planting near streams into Sonoma County’s zoning code has been delayed and may not be decided until sometime next year.
A public workshop set for Wednesday on the proposed zoning amendment was cancelled and a Nov. 7 Planning Commission hearing on the matter was postponed indefinitely last week by the county’s Permit and Resource Management Department.
“There’s no real hurry,” said Jennifer Barrett, deputy director of the department, noting that the stream bank development limits are already included in the county’s General Plan.
Sonoma County planning officials are advancing new zoning rules they say will clarify county regulations that shield streams and creeks from development and agriculture. The updated zoning affects properties along more than 3,200 miles of year-round and seasonal streams in unincorporated areas.
Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday approved zoning rules that they said would ensure a ‘conservative’ and ‘cautious’ approach to renewable energy development on the county’s farms, ranches and remote forested lands and hillsides.
With renewable energy development now a central issue in Sonoma County, disputed rules that would govern the size and location of green energy projects are returning to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday for approval.
Santa Rosa’s City Council has passed two measures making it easier for medical service providers to open new facilities in the city.
Santa Rosa is being sued for its decision to relax zoning rules for large grocery stores that want to set up shop in existing buildings in the city’s southeast. When the City Council passed the zoning changes in September, it said it was trying to remove hurdles for businesses, create jobs and give low-income residents better access to fresh food and vegetables.
Chickens were the stars of the show Tuesday at the Santa Rosa City Council meeting. Hailed as healthy, sustainable, comforting, educational and just plain fun, backyard hens were removed from forbidden status in most Santa Rosa neighborhoods by a unanimous vote of the seven-member council. ‘We have a lot of outlaw chickens in our city, and we would like to give them some amnesty,’ Councilwoman Susan Gorin said.
Santa Rosa made permanent or extended 20 changes to city codes intended to boost economic development across the city. Measures that delay the collection of permit fees, streamline permitting of small projects and give landlords more time to find new tenants for vacant buildings were all passed by the council Tuesday night.
Zoning changes designed to make it easier for businesses to locate in Santa Rosa were lauded by the City Council majority Tuesday as wise economic development policy but lambasted by others as handouts to developers and private property owners. The council unanimously approved giving wineries and breweries more flexibility to operate tasting rooms and production facilities in the city, in some cases without any land-use permits.
Most cities in Sonoma County, save Rohnert Park, have some provisions permitting residents to raise backyard hens. But under the current Santa Rosa zoning and animal keeping ordinances, having chickens is prohibited except in those few neighborhoods zoned ‘rural residential.’
City Council members soon may vote to change that. They’ll be asked Sept. 18 to approve new regulations legalizing backyard hens and setting the terms under which they can be kept.