Central Healdsburg design plan wins approval

Healdsburg has a vision for its future -#8212; specifically for the southern gateway to the downtown and train depot area -#8212; embodied in a newly-approved plan that spells out sweeping changes.

More than four years in the making, the Central Healdsburg Avenue Plan was unanimously approved last week by the City Council.

It provides a set of guiding principles and design frameworks for public infrastructure and private investment in the 80-acre area near the heart of the community.

Some of the changes are already in the works, such as design and engineering on a traffic roundabout that will replace the confusing five-way intersection where Healdsburg Avenue, Mill Street, Vine Street and the railroad tracks converge.

Other suggested improvements are further off, such as slimming down four-lane Healdsburg Avenue to "create a sense of arrival, calm traffic and create a comfortable walking environment."

But the plan also is intended to spur economic and residential development in the area, which is generally south of Mill Street between Highway 101 and the Russian River.

It's now dominated by industrial uses including a lumber mill, lead product manufacturer, automation company, three wineries and a multi-tenant industrial park.

"It's one of the rare staff reports I looked at and got all happy and giddy about," said City Councilwoman Susan Jones.

She said she was excited by the study because "it's taking a part of our town and really turning it into something we will all enjoy, both locals and guests."

The 151-page plan proposes land uses, building designs, new streets, trail and creek improvements and utility upgrades.

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