A split City Council on Monday declined to restrict a west D Street parcel to a lower density of new homes at the request of neighbors, but said Petaluma?s new General Plan should reflect a maximum limit of new homes in the area and other restrictions.

The former Arnold Scott ranch at D Street and Windsor Drive, owned by developer Davidon Homes, will continue to be slated for ?very low density? housing, which could allow anywhere from 22 to about 100 homes.

Neighbors of the 59-acre site and other Petaluma residents asked that the land be classified as ?rural,? allowing fewer homes on the site. They feared the higher density would allow Davidon to build a proposed 93-home development there.

But some council members and a Davidon representative said they expect any project built on the site ? a decision to be made separately from the housing density issue ? would have to have fewer homes anyway, citing the need to set aside much of the land for open space along Kelly Creek, a three-acre park and preservation of the former ranch barns.

On a 4-2 straw vote, the council said the housing density should remain the same. Separately, a majority of council members asked that the General Plan limit the maximum number of homes built in the Windsor Drive area to no more then 340, in line with a 1986 City Council decision.

With the number of homes already built in the Victoria subdivision and elsewhere along Windsor Drive, the 340 limit would mean no more than 41 homes could be built on the Davidon site, within the allowed density range but also meeting the request of site neighbors, some of whom wore stickers marked ?340? to the meeting.

Mayor Pamela Torliatt and council members Teresa Barrett, Samantha Freitas and Karen Nau said the city should stick to the 340 limit. City staff members said they would report back to the council on April 16 as to whether the General Plan could legally limit the number of homes built in that area.

As to whether the site should be designated for rural development or remain slated for ?very low? housing density, Freitas and Nau joined council members Mike O?Brien and David Rabbitt in supporting the more dense designation.

Torliatt and Barrett argued for as much of the land as possible to be preserved as a park.

But Rabbitt pointed out that the higher density still allows for the 41-home limit to be met while preserving the historic barns, allowing a trailhead to adjacent Helen Putnam Park and a new neighborhood park, and banning development on steep slopes and wildlife habitat areas.

?I think this is actually a win for the community,? he said.

(Contact Corey Young at corey.young@arguscourier.com)