By a vote of 5-2 (MacDonald and Bohar dissenting) Sonoma’s Planning Commission approved the application to demolish all but the facade and frontage of the existing Cheese Factory building and replace it with an entirely new structure. The plan includes the creation of an “Ox-Bow” style public market, said Steve Carlin, the developer leasing the property from the Viviani family in a 99-year lease.
The public in attendance was generally in accord with the project, but concerns were raised over inadequate parking and the effects of a project like this on traffic and circulation. Some members of the commission and the public asked for more time and more information; the materials provided for the meeting were made available only 48-hours before the meeting. Planning Director David Goodison said more time and more studies could be requested, but offered the opinion that it would mean killing the project. Hi comment seemed to weigh heavily on those in attendance.
Issues pertaining to the effects of demolition on “grandfathered” parking allocations, uncertainty about the fate of the State-owned Casa Grande parking lot, and other concerns did not prove sufficient to overcome the momentum of project approval. At this time, it is unknown if the approval will be appealed to the City Council on matters of CEQA and inconsistency with Development Code provisions.