A plan by Hanna Boys Center to subdivide several acres of land west of Arnold Drive passed its biggest hurdle Tuesday after the county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the center’s request in a 4-0 vote.
The vote approved general plan amendments and other changes to the unincorporated land, allowing the nonprofit to divvy up approximately 57 acres at the foot of Sonoma Mountain, with some of that set aside for open space and some for development.
Up to three lots of 10 to 12 acres each could then be sold to a developer, making Hanna an estimated $3 million or more – money the nonprofit plans to reinvest in its campus at 17000 Arnold Drive, where Hanna runs a facility for at-risk boys.
The developer, in turn, would have permission to build up to three single-family residences on the lots west of campus.
“If I had been a trustee of the Boys Center, I would not have pursued this as an option for growing a $3 million endowment for the center,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin on Thursday, echoing comments she made during Tuesday’s meeting. Gorin worried that the push to subdivide that land – a several-year process culminating in the current, scaled-down proposal – may have led to bad feelings among residents who otherwise support Hanna Boys Center.
“People who would have normally contributed to (Hanna) and contributed to the endowment, may have second thoughts,” she said.
Gorin expressed misgivings about the proposal she voted for, but added, “My responsibility is looking at this project from a land-use perspective.” She said she decided that a compromise would be more pragmatic, as the full board was likely to approve Hanna’s request following unanimous support from the county Planning Commission last September.
Gorin said that under preexisting zoning, as many as 13 homes could have been built to the south of the Hanna campus along Arnold Drive. But under the county’s new terms, that land will never be developed – and no more than three homes can ever be built to the west of campus.
“I thought that was something very positive that the community got out of it,” she said. “And the Planning Commission recognized this to be a public benefit.”
Gorin also pointed to restrictions to any development that may occur there, with size limitations and architectural approval subject to a design review board. Other considerations were made for the privacy of neighbors, and a “wildlife corridor” was designated as well.
Kris Van Giesen, chief development officer at Hanna Boys Center, said he felt the center had “bent over backward” during the long conversation with Valley residents leading up to Tuesday’s vote.
Two years ago, Hanna proposed creating lots for up to seven houses. That idea caused “80 to 100 people” to come to community meetings “and vent, very strongly, their emotions on this project,” Van Giesen said. “We listened.”
Hanna scaled back its proposal based on those concerns, Van Giesen said, and “at each subsequent meeting, fewer people were part of the meeting.”
“Those numbers dwindled, I think, mainly because they saw we were doing things that they desired us to do on behalf of their community,” he said.
It was about a dozen people who came to speak out against the proposal at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, according to Joanne Filipello.
“Hanna had an overwhelming presence, and in fact their entire presentation had to do with how wonderful Hanna is,” she said. “I definitely felt that anyone who opposed the development was being demonized.”
“However, this is just simply not the case,” she continued. “In my opinion, people who care about Hanna care about open space, care about the value of this property ... And that point was apparently considered irrelevant.”
Filipello and Gorin both said there are still issues to be sorted out before a developer can break ground. In particular, there is the question of how Valley of the Moon Water District can deliver water to that area.
“There was some difference of opinion where that hookup might occur,” Gorin said, explaining that in one scenario, a pipe more than a mile-and-a-half long would need to be constructed, at great expense.
There was also the issue of trucks and other equipment traveling on Carriger Road during construction. Gorin said she pushed to have that equipment travel instead by way of the Hanna Boys Center campus, but was unsuccessful.
“We will do what it takes in order to create safe conditions for the neighbors, the joggers, the pedestrians, the equestrians” on Carriger Road, she said.
“I definitely felt that anyone who opposed
the development was being demonized.”
– Joanne Filipello