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Inside one of the dozens of buildings at the Sonoma Developmental Center
photo credit: Marc Albert/KRCB
While bold and transformative still describes plans to redevelop a sprawling Sonoma Valley campus, community feedback received Tuesday generally favored a less ambitious future for the Sonoma Developmental Center.  
 
Roughly 80 people met online Tuesday evening, in the first of two hearings to brainstorm policies that will shape any future community.
  
The more than a century old, nearly 1,000-acre campus for the developmentally disabled has been shuttered by state officials, who hope to repurpose the site for housing and other uses, with local input and support.
  
Supervisor Susan Gorin. "This conversation is really important, because the policies set the stage for the level of sustainability and the footprints of each of the buildings, the heights, the sight-lines, the screening and the overarching importance of fire resilience, fire resistant materials, defensible space, and yet still capturing and celebrating the beauty that is in the Sonoma Developmental Center. So, I am optimistic we can come together and create a vision for something very special."
  
Input from breakout sessions urged any impacts be limited, especially on neighbors, traffic and wildlife. At the same time, some say the area's rural character would be threatened by road improvements, while others questioned the speed of a wildfire evacuation without them.
  
Current concepts envision between 400 and a thousand new dwellings on the property.
  
In addition to more frequent bus service, many demanded a hands-off approach to open space on the property, with strong protections for an undeveloped wildlife corridor. Several urged the area be left unfenced and without lighting, that could confuse species passing through the area. Restrictions on or an outright prohibition on housing at the site being used for short term rentals was also raised.
 
A second on line meeting will be held Saturday, March 26th at 10 a.m. You can register and join the meeting here: https://www.sdcspecificplan.com/meetings
 
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