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Sonoma City Council nixes Nicora Place appeal

THIS IS A SCHEMATIC of how Nicora Place will be laid out.

THIS IS A SCHEMATIC of how Nicora Place will be laid out.

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The appeal of a Planning Commission decision to approve an 18-unit, single-family home development on West Spain Street was denied by the Sonoma City Council Monday.

On a 3-2 vote, the council upheld the commission’s approval of Nicora Place, with one modification that will require a single story garage for one of the lots on the west side of the project, to allow for better lighting and privacy for the neighboring condominiums.

Voting to approve were Steve Barbose, Laurie Gallian and Ken Brown. Tom Rouse and David Cook would have allowed the project to stand without modification.

“These are the tough ones because we know infill is going to occur in the city,” said Rouse. He added that medium- and high-density projects are difficult to accept, especially if the properties they are built on have been open areas for a long time.

The appeal was filed by Georgette Darcy on behalf of two neighboring condominium communities, Sonoma Gardens and Sonoma Park, both of which flank the proposed housing. In a point-by-point discussion, Darcy identified goals and tenets of the Development Code as it relates to Planned Unit Developments and argued that the project did not meet the criteria.

But Barbose pointed out that PUDs allow for flexibility. “I like overall what has been done with this project, and I like the compromises made.” But he believed the unit on lot three, in the middle of the west side of the project, needed to be lower. “It would be less impactful,” he said.

Eight speakers joined Darcy in opposing the project. They cited issues such as increased traffic, loss of trees, lack of privacy, incompatible architectural styles and number of buildings on the site. The developer is Steve Ledson, who has a similar project on West MacArthur and who built Armstrong Estates.

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 have 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 on it. But most units will have two-car garages and driveway aprons for parking off street.

Four dedicated guest spots will also be constructed.

Forty-eight trees will be required to be planted on the property. All perimeter trees will be 60-inch box trees. Interior trees will be 24-inches. Issues related to traffic, curb painting, and requested crosswalk will be submitted to the Traffic Safety Committee for consideration.