We had to make a decision about a project proposed by a stellar local guy who runs Benedetti Tire & Benedetti Lube - Mark Reece - who wants to add a car wash at the back of the property. The case in favor of saying yes was compelling - the use is allowable (although not in the definite "yes" category), the existing business is highly valued, the location was uniquely appropriate (already having two auto-related businesses on the lot, no residences nearby, and backing onto a lot zoned industrial), and Mark Reece had shown himself to be willing to do whatever was needed to make the project neighbor-friendly. (The 14 letters of support we got and the 11 speakers endorsing him personally and professionally spoke to all these points.) And of course in this era of Covid-19, with businesses suffering right and left and hope dwindling before our eyes, the opportunity to do the right thing for this local business run by a Sebastopol born and raised community-minded guy wasn't lost on us.
However, the need to preserve the limited remaining land in our downtown core for all possible mixed uses, including residential, office, retail, restaurant, service (and other commercial uses), was equally compelling. Our general plan has a vision that all at the meeting recognized as the guiding principle. We heard that from the City Council and Planning Commission, as well as speakers from the public and experts present at the meeting.
The outcome could not have been better, from my perspective. The car wash got a tentative yes, supporting this local business's efforts to thrive, but specific conditions will be proposed and reviewed by the Planning Department (subject to approval by the CIty Council) to make sure the impact of this project on neighboring parcels doesn't hamper the future use of those parcels. Because of the specific concerns expressed by speakers, and because of the hard work already done by our Planning Commission and Planning Department, the City Council will have excellent information that will allow us to fashion conditions that will include the controls we need to make sure we've got an outcome that serves both this local business and the greater vision of the downtown core in our general plan.
Long meeting, but so worth it!