Ask the PAC: Next steps for Scott Ranch property
A housing development and park extension project that has received mixed reactions for nearly two decades is taking another step toward final approval as it heads back to the Petaluma Planning Commission this summer.
The 58.66-acre property known as Scott Ranch, located off D Street and Windsor Drive on Petaluma’s rural west side, was purchased by Davidon Homes in 2003, and was originally set to be developed as a housing project with nearly 100 homes. But following years of public pushback, Davidon in June 2018 reached an agreement with the community-led group Kelly Creek Protection Project of Earth Island Institute, which agreed to purchase 47 acres for $4.1 million to preserve the open space aspect of the property. But, according to the agreement, that purchase will only occur after the City of Petaluma grants approval for both the proposed park extension and the housing development.
The development will include construction of 28 single-family homes on about 6.4 acres of land, with an additional five acres of private open space, leaving the rest for an extension of Helen Putnam Regional Park. The single-family residences will be built along two new streets, and will range in size from 2,600 to 3,500 square feet.
Question: Where is the Scott Ranch Project at now and what’s next in its timeline?
Answer: It will be further discussed at a public hearing before the Planning Commission on July 12, following the release of a final environmental impact report (FEIR) on June 8. Findings from that impact report have been posted in full on the city’s website.
This will be the third time a proposal for Scott Ranch has gone before city leaders for consideration, but the first time it has advanced to the final approval process, as it gains public approval following the agreement to preserve the majority of its open space.
“We have responded to the community’s vision for this property,'' said Steve Abbs, Vice President of Davidon Homes, in an emailed news release. “This property is legally designated for residential (use), and what is proposed is a fair balance in addressing housing needs, protection of open space and providing benefits for all Petalumans.”
Greg Colvin, director and co-founder of the Kelly Creek Protection Project, said the Helen Putnam Park extension will include fencing and enhancements to the nearby stock pond, which is used by the California red-legged frog for a breeding habitat, and restoring eroded gullies to protect water quality in Kelly Creek and raise the groundwater table to benefit native plant species. Colvin said all of this will be prioritized before building trail extensions and parking lots at the park.
“It’s going to be a place where generations from now people will be able to learn about the best practices in environmental preservation,” Colvin said in a Wednesday afternoon phone call.
Plans also call for renovations to the property’s iconic red barns, which would ultimately include information kiosks, vegetable gardens, demonstration areas and an amphitheater for outdoor learning activities.
According to the final environmental impact report, about 500 protected trees exist on the property and will remain, with an additional 400 trees to be planted on the residential lots and in the creek area. Some non-native trees such as eucalyptus may be removed if deemed not in good health or if they pose a fire hazard.
Following City Council approval, Colvin expects the project to break ground in 2023, with a completion date of 2024 or later.
Amelia Parreira is a staff writer for the Argus-Courier. She can be reached at email@example.com or 707-521-5208.