YOLO SUN OPINION :
It’s time for Woodland City Council to begin grappling with issues related to the City’s Downtown Specific Plan (DSP); for example, upholding the DSP’s basic “vision” for its key element of a: “Primary gateway.” Downtown Woodland is the urban heart of Yolo County and its “Primary gateway” must capably display such identity, evoking urban, not suburban, heritage.
Yet, in 2007 the City approved a project recklessly disregarding this key DSP vision: Paul Petrovich’s Rite Aid proposal to install a one-story, suburban strip-mall type of building as one leg of our Downtown ‘Primary gateway” (northwest corner of East and Main Streets). The economy went wrong side up, though, and Rite Aid cancelled the project.
City council members incorrectly argued that there was “nothing we could do,” because of their impression of an unusual loophole in the DSP, through which Petrovich could slyly drive this adverse, cookie-cutter building, replacing the DSP’s vision of: “[C]ontinuation of the old Rice Mill design, carrying the agricultural heritage reflected in this design directly onto Main Street.,” despite the DSP’s clear policy that: “The City shall continue to support mixed-use developments” on this specific location, “with a similar style and scale of the historic rice mill building.”
The three-story Rice Mill building extends between North and Court Streets along East Street. It was renovated in the early 1990s as mixed-use and was recently purchased and modernized by local developer Jeff Morgan, owner of Maria’s Cantina and the nearby vacant lot on Sixth Street, as well as the Meier building (former auto dealership) at Bush and College Streets, the former bank building on the corner of College and Main Streets and the Barth building near Bush on First Street.
On July 18, 2014, Petrovich renewed his goal of staging a similar, suburban-style, single-story structure at this fundamentally important location. This new planning application proposes stationing a gussied-up back-end of a suburban strip-mall, absent pedestrian entryways, along uniquely crucial Main Street frontage.
As well, Petrovich’s new planning application ignores long-standing commitments of any such project, under the California Environmental Quality Act, to restore the Keehn House, an historic Victorian dwelling previously moved to East and Court Streets, making possible a development project at this location.
Woodland City Council has authority to interpret the DSP in defense of its key “vision,” by requiring a conditional-use-permit (CUP) based planning process for development proposals at this site. The question is, will it exercise this authority?
Yolo Sun strongly believes that Woodland City Council must insist upon a CUP-based planning process regarding Petrovich’s renewed development proposal at East and Main Streets, in order to realize basic purposes of the City’s DSP.
The Wiseman building serves as one leg of Downtown Woodland’s “Primary gateway;” let’s not have a stupid-man building as the other leg.