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Rentals, food trolley, bike trail OK’d

Adding to Sonoma’s image as a tourist mecca, the Sonoma Planning Commission unanimously approved turning three office units into vacation rentals Thursday, but this time there’s a twist.

The buildings, located at 158, 164 and 172 W. Napa St., will be returned to their former status as houses. All are older than 50 years, although the Commission was told only one is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Once restored, the buildings will provide income to owner Michael Marino, while he moves forward with Phase II, a small lodging property akin to the “auto court” concept, popular when cars were first mass produced.

“I’m delighted to see this project come before you,” said Karla Noyes, the only member of the public who spoke. “The applicant respects historic buildings and I’m glad he is returning them to residential use. I also support his small hotel concept.” Patricia Cullinan, preservation activist, also sent a letter of support.

The site also contains a duplex, now vacant, and some ancillary buildings and additions Marino hopes to get permission to demolish. His next visit will be to the Design Review and Historic Preservation Commission to start the ball rolling.

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