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East Petaluma housing development OK’d


Petaluma officials Tuesday signed off on a Concord-based developer’s plans to construct nearly 200 homes on Petaluma’s east side, with 25 units reserved for lower income home-buyers.

The 16-acre Brody Ranch development will be situated near the intersection of North McDowell Boulevard and Corona Road, north of the future Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station. The subdivision will include 61-single family homes and nine condominium buildings with a total of 138 multi-family units, according to project plans.

The development of the for-sale units, fronted by DeNova Homes, will also include a network of pedestrian and bike paths, easement for 12 public parking spaces, pedestrian crosswalks, roadway widening and a bus stop at Sonoma Mountain Parkway. It also includes wetlands and open spaces, a tot lot and a community garden for residents.

DeNova’s Director of Land Acquisition Trent Sanson lauded the project as one that will help link residents to the SMART train while also supplying a large cache of diverse housing options.

“There are very few opportunity sites left in the area, and with this one being unique and having the SMART train being built across from it in the future ... it seemed like a great location in a vibrant community for us to hopefully make something that everyone is proud of,” Sanson said.

Brody Ranch will be the second in the city to include residences for sale at below-market rates through the Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County. The Southgate development features 26 homes offered through the organization as workforce housing.

The housing trust will own the land where the affordable units are built at Brody Ranch, and will lease it on a 99-year term to the homeowner. That method gives the organization the ability to mandate that homes are sold to low-to-moderate income homeowners in perpetuity.

Those affordable units, which are reserved for households earning 80 to 120 percent of the average median income, will be scattered throughout the development, said Executive Director Dev Goetschius. The trust will handle the sale of those homes, she said.

“We want people to be able to live and work locally and housing is a wonderful way to really change the quality of life and to have people who are the fabric of our community here in the community where they would normally be priced out,” she said.

During public comment at the Tuesday planning commission meeting, four residents voiced concerns about elements of the development, including safety, traffic and parking impacts on nearby neighborhoods.

Vice Chair Bill Wolpert, a proponent of walkable urban development, expressed a desire for increased connectivity.

“Overall I’m OK with this project,” he said. “Petaluma is going through a transition right now and we’re trying to find places for people to live and we’re going through some growing pains. We love our open space on the outside of the community and we don’t spoil that, so we’re left with infill projects on the interior. There are no questions about it being more crowded and having more traffic and taking more time to get places. We can do a better job giving people choices about how they get place to place.”

The planning commission sought more exploration into the possibility of extending a bike and pedestrian crossing across the SMART tracks. In granting previous entitlements for the project, the city council determined that such an extension would not be feasible, though city council liaison Chris Albertson agreed to bring up the topic during the period for council comment at a future meeting.

Commissioners also praised the project’s design, which features a mix of looks including cottages, farmhouse and craftsman style homes and Spanish aesthetics.

Chairwoman Gina Benedetti-Petnic was absent for the 6-0 vote to approve the plans.

Sanson said DeNova hopes to break ground in August or September pending the approval of grading permits. The project will likely take two years to construct, he said.

(Contact Hannah Beausang at hannah.beausang@arguscourier.com.)