Planning panel OKs infill project

Despite neighborhood objections, the Sonoma Planning Commission voted Thursday to approve Nicora Place, an 18-unit, single-family, infill project on West Spain Street.

Citing the developer’s attempts to mitigate neighborhood concerns, and calling it an “oasis” amid much denser development on both sides, the commission approved the Planned Unit Development (PUD) and its Mitigated Negative Declaration.

“In the old days, these were long lots with farms behind,” said Commissioner Gary Edwards. He referred to an overhead view of the site with the location of the units projected on the parcel. “I look at what’s there now and it is very dense. This PUD is not as dense as the units around it.”

Nicora Place will be built on a two-acre lot at 821-845 W. Spain St., a site that already has 11 older units. Those buildings are scheduled to be removed. The new, detached homes will be three bedrooms, two baths and will have 12 different architectural treatments. They will be built around a U-shaped drive with 12 homes on the perimeter and six in the center next to a small park. The driveway will be a fire lane and no parking will be allowed. But most units will have two-car garages and driveway aprons for parking off street. Four dedicated guest spots will also be constructed.

Nine speakers from the neighborhood spoke in opposition. Concerns included loss of privacy and morning light, negative impact on property values, more traffic with increased site distance hazards for those exiting onto Spain Street, and the loss of large trees. Several asked that the units be single story, not two.

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