Mendocino County's Chief Planner Andy Gustavson opened last Thursday night's meeting. It was the second called to discuss a possible water and sewer system for downtown Boonville and some of the surrounding area. Gustavson came armed with parcel maps prepared by the Planning Department.
According to current R-1 zoning (residential, one unit) there are 152 residential lots in the area which form what Mr. Gustavson called the "existing baseline." If things stay the way they are, there is a short term potential for up to 174 dwelling units (via second homes or trailers) on those 152 parcels, which runfrom about the Highway 253 intersection, north up Highway 128 then west to include Airport Estates. In addition, there are 58 commercially-zoned parcels in that corridor, many of them built out.
WIthout a municipal water and/or sewer system these parcels could theoretically expand over time to approximately 199 parcels with up to 391 dwelling units.
But if either water or sewer service was developed for downtown Boonville for these parcels, the development potential increases to 413 residential parcels and up to 813 dwelling units. Also, commercial development potential increases to 75 parcels.
If both water and sewer service was provided, the residential development potential increases further to 733 lots with up to 1441 dwelling units.
In theory. Mr. Gustavson emphasized that these were simply development potentials under various zoning scenarios, not likely, practical options. Many other (mostly market) factors would affect the actual development in downtown Boonville.
However, if water or sewer service is provided, obviously, more residences could be added to existing lots, including in places where there are now septic systems and leachfields. Also, the minimum lot size for a given residence goes down to 6,000 square feet if municipal water and sewer service is provided.
Of course, any increase in residences translates to more people, more homes, more services, more commercial activity. "But I would not hazard a guess about how much increase would actually occur," Gustavson added. He also declined to speculate about the increase in property values or tax assessments that would accompany such development.
Mr. Gustavson also noted that the Anderson Valley section of the County's General Plan says that the County encourages water and wastewater system development for Anderson Valley.
He also said that some small lots, particularly in the Haehl Street area and along Highway 128 and in Airport Estates are already so small that they probably could not be further subdivided, and would pose significant limitations to private septic system upgrades without a municipal system.
Community Services District Board Chair Valerie Hanelt who, with fellow board member Kathleen McKenna, is the guiding the potential development of water and sewage disposal, pointed out that the primary goal would be to alleviate the housing shortage and to improve the public health of the Boonville area while at the same time maintaining the rural character of the town. (Anarchic as it is, there have never been negative health consequences from living in downtown Boonville.)
Ms. Hanelt is setting up an advisory committee of local residents to continue to pursue discussion of basic infrastructure, identify service area options, and pursue possible state and federal grants and loans. Initial grant paperwork is in, but no commitments have been made. If things work out — perhaps a long shot at this point — a planning grant could be awarded which would fund a consultant to explore options, cost them out, and prepare to put the idea to a vote of the property owners in the service area. This process is viewed as three or four years out.
To volunteer for Ms. Hanelt's advisory committee email the Community Services District manager Joy Andrews (email@example.com) or call 895-2075.