Summary of Planning Commission Meeting April 4, 2017

Thanks to the approximately 140 Petaluma residents attending the Planning Commission meeting on April 4!  The size of our group surprised the officials, and we are requesting more chairs for the next City Council meeting.  The meeting lasted until 11:32 p.m.


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Presentation Order

  1. The EIR firm summarized the document.
  2. Steve Abbs of Davidon Homes introduced himself (Jeff Thayer retired).
  3. The public commented.
  4. The Planning Commissioners commented.

Planning Commission Video
 

Link to the video of the meeting:

http://petaluma.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=2309

Because the meeting was over 4 hours, we will highlight some of comments.  If you are interested in viewing the public comments, they start at 1:06:07 on the video.


Attorney Presentations

Our side hired two experienced EIR attorneys to analyze the DEIR.  Both attorneys described the inadequacies found in the DEIR.  Because the attorneys’ comments were very specific to inadequacies in the DEIR, all Planning Commissioners were taking notes and referenced the comments in their summaries. Commissioners stated that the comments were valid and worthy of scrutiny. 

Both attorneys agreed that the DEIR should not be approved without substantial improvements and cannot be acted upon until all public comments have been received.

Located at 1:06:07.  Brian Gaffney (a former Petaluman and PetRP attorney since 2004)

Located at 1:37:51. Tamara Galanter, attorney for Kelly Creek Protection Project


Citizen Presentations

Sherri Fabre-Marcia – Talked about working on the 2025 General Plan and how the developers want to amend the General Plan, the $1 million donation to help the land become part of Helen Putnam Park, and talked about exceeding safe traffic flow on our crumbling streets.

Chris Cort played a video that you can view at www.PetRP.org or at the following location:

https://vimeo.com/209475271/f56cceb04e

Located at 1:47:43.  Greg Colvin presented a PowerPoint on behalf of Kelly Creek Protection Project, highlighting the environmental problems with the property, showing how the development would invade federally-declared, threatened frog habitat  south of the creek that becomes a “waterfall” during rainstorms. 

Greg described a feasible alternative causing the land to become an extension of Putnam Park in two steps: reducing the housing development to the minimum consistent with the General Plan, and raising additional private and public funds to buy out Davidon’s economic interest. 

Greg called for Davidon, the County, and KCPP to meet and confer.

Link to Greg's PowerPoint presentation:

Greg Colvin's Presentation to Planning Commission April 2017

Also presented were:

  • petition results (486 signatures)
  • the red-legged frog habitat
  • description of the downstream flooding problem already existing in Kelly Creek
  • existing storm drain under driveway at Grossland
  • landscape plans for an alternative vision for development
  • visual impact of the land
  • wildlife corridor
  • traffic on D Street
  • existing landslide problems in Victoria


Planning Commission Comments

The commissioners start discussing the project at 2:28:21.

Summary:

  • The DEIR contains a number of unresolved issues.
  • Comments from the 2013 DEIR were not included in the current DEIR.
  • Why aren’t we starting with the setting instead of fitting the project into the setting?
  • The land south of Kelly Creek is too environmentally sensitive to be developed.
  • No feedback has been received from the environmental agencies (Fish & Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers).
  • Discourage grading at 15-30% gradient.
  • Removal of many trees.
  • The geology section is too technical.
  • Does not follow the feathering and rural approach with the Davidon request for change in zoning.
  • Should not change the visual character of the land.
  • Discussion about keeping the red barns in place.
  • Discussion about Davidon changing the specific bullet points of this project in the General Plan.

Final Results

The majority of commissioners were not comfortable moving the DEIR forward. However, Heather Hines (Planning Manager for the Planning Division) stated that “we have always moved the DEIRs forward.” 

The Commissioners decided to move the DEIR forward with the unanimous recommendation that no houses should be built on the South Side of Kelly Creek.  This would leave either 28 or 47 buildable lots (as opposed to the 63-66 in the Davidon proposal).  The Commissioners requested to see the DEIR again after changes had been made to the DEIR.


What is our Assessment?

The Commissioners are starting to understand what we have been stating for the last 13 years about the environmental sensitivity of the land, the value of this land as a gateway, and the importance of this land being left as open space.

We certainly are not finished with our work!  We have until May 1 to prepare comments.  We will send an email helping you write comments specifically citing the DEIR and General Plan so that these comments must be addressed by the City Council.

Thank you for helping us get this far.  With all of us working together, we expect to be successful in saving this land for future generations of Petalumans!