At the end of the second marathon meeting lasting five hours, the Sonoma City Council upheld an appeal of the Planning Commission approval of three large homes on Schocken Hill. In a succession of three 3-2 votes by the council majority Agrimonti, Hundley and Harrington (Cook and Edwards dissenting) gave direction to staff to come back with resolutions for adoption at their next meeting upholding the appeals.
Though each of the three homes proposed varied in size, the majority found that all exceeded the 5,000 square feet pad size allowed by the Hillside Ordinance passed in 2003. Though the applicants argued that six other homes larger than 5,000 square feet had been built under similar site conditions and limitations since, the council majority did not find the comparisons compelling, nor did they find that they constitute precedent. Despite repeated threats of litigation made by the attorney for the applicant, Bill Jasper, the council majority refused to be intimidated; David Cook commented that he’d found such threats unpalatable.
All members of the council agreed that houses can be built on the properties in question, but the majority made it clear that they must abide and adhere to the guidelines and standards of the Development Code. It’s unclear as to what, if any, actions the applicant might take at this time. The projects can be revised and resubmitted to the Planning Commission, or the applicant can choose to take the matter to court. For now however, pending adoption of the final resolutions, Schocken Hill will remain as it is.