Could Cloverdale double in size to preserve open space?

Voters in November will be asked whether the city should update its "urban growth boundary" into the western hills, a first step toward nearly doubling the city’s square area.|
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The Cloverdale City Council will ask voters this November to determine if they should update the city's urban growth boundary to include the area known as the western hills. (City of Cloverdale)
June 24, 2024, 6:36AM

Cloverdale voters will determine in November if the city should expand its "urban growth boundary," a move that, if approved, would be the first step toward doubling the city’s size.

If voters approve the measure, city leaders have no desire to use that bigger footprint for new homes or commercial development. Instead, they say they’d hope to someday annex the land, currently under Sonoma County’s control, to preserve open space.

"This is a win-win for everyone," Mayor Todd Lands said. "We get to control the hillside. You see the open space that we’re trying to protect and preserve and not let the county or anyone else build in more than we would want."

The county’s zoning for the land, known as the western hills, allows for 40 different land uses, including agricultural, residential and recreational. Water availability limits many of those development opportunities, however.

Were the land to turn over to the city, Assistant City Manager Kevin Thompson said the city would rezone the area to rural residential, "which is much more restrictive than what the county currently allows."

The proposed new boundary would set the stage for 1,329 acres of land to someday be under Cloverdale’s jurisdiction, paving the way for the city to almost double its acreage, should it eventually bring that land into city limits.

For at least a decade, city officials have wanted to control growth in the western hills.

Cloverdale’s city attorney is currently drafting ballot language for the city council to approve at an upcoming council meeting.

Approval of the ballot question wouldn’t trigger immediate annexation. Several steps would have to happen first, including the city working with county officials to expand Cloverdale’s "sphere of influence" — or all the lands it wants for future annexation. Such a move would require county government approval.

The urban growth boundary, a hemline that bleeds past city limits, is drawn by city officials but requires a stamp of approval by voters. Boundaries typically last 20 years, but can be amended early by voter approval.

Cloverdale’s urban growth boundary was first adopted in 2010 and won’t expire until Jan. 1, 2030.

City leaders are going to voters well in advance of that date because Clearwater Ranch Community, an assisted living facility for young adults with disabilities is seeking annexation into Cloverdale. The property, which encompasses 84 acres, sits on the hilly western edge of the city’s border. Annexation into Cloverdale would enable it to potentially go on the city’s sewer and water system.

Rather than attempt to craft a ballot measure around a single property, Cloverdale council members are choosing to envelop the entire western hills into their urban growth boundary zone.

Amie Windsor is the Community Journalism Team Lead with The Press Democrat. She can be reached at [email protected] or 707-521-5218.

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