First sign that Ceres garden might be allowed to stay
Development firm City Ventures appeared at the Sebastopol Planning Commission on Tuesday, Oct. 8, for a preliminary review of a large condominium development, Gravenstein Village, that the company would like to build behind the O’Reilly complex at the north end of town. The newest iteration of the plan calls for 103 units in 18 two- and three-story buildings. Samantha Hauser, director of development for City Ventures, said she was looking forward to getting feedback from the planning commission and hearing from the community. And hear she did.
Neighbors from the surrounding area and friends of the Ceres garden, which currently occupies part of the site, lined up to have their say.
A half dozen neighbors from Hurlbutt Avenue and Winona Lane lined up to express their concerns about the size of the development and its impact on traffic, noise, parking, views and stormwater runoff.
“As a resident and a contractor, my feeling is this is too big for the area,” said neighbor Bill Goode, expressing the universal feeling among speakers from the neighborhood.
Although the development provides one or two parking spaces for every unit — some in garages, some outside — Goode pointed out that most households have multiple cars.
“There could be 300 cars in this place,” he said.
“If it was a smaller size, everything would be easier. There would be room for the garden.You wouldn’t have to remove so many trees and you could have larger setbacks.”
Much of the neighborhood concern centered around three of the two-story buildings, which, in the current design, are placed with a 10-foot setback directly along the property line, backing uo to the backyards of homes along Winona Lane.
A parade of supporters for the nonprofit Ceres garden, which occupies part of the southernmost parcel under consideration, expressed their hope that the garden could stay in its present location.
Though she made no commitment, Hauser gave the first indication that the developer might be thinking along similar lines.
“We so agree with what they’re doing,” Hauser said. “We wouldn’t want to unravel that in any way.”
In Hauser’s presentation, she described City Ventures as a “sustainable developer” with a long history of being at the forefront of environmental design. All of the units would be all-electric and powered, in part, by solar panels on the roof; all of the garages would have chargers for electric vehichles and battery packs to store energy from the solar panels, along with other eco-friendly features.