Cloverdale growth boundaries in limbo

Cloverdale's plans for future growth continue to be a topic of debate and somewhat of a puzzle to the government officials who are responsible for setting the city's ultimate boundaries.

The city's plan to stretch south to the historic community of Asti, while leaving some unincorporated county "islands" in between, continues to provoke strong, differing opinions.

It gave pause Wednesday to the county's Local Agency Formation Commission, which is charged with approving the city's "sphere of influence," defined as its probable physical boundary and service area.

"I think all of the problems we're seeing here are the result of the urban growth boundary," said commissioner Teresa Barrett, referring to the measure approved by Cloverdale voters in 2010.

Cloverdale was the last city in Sonoma County to adopt a growth boundary, and Barrett, who also serves on the Petaluma City Council, said it is intended to stop sprawl, conserve agriculture and open space.

But in Cloverdale's case, she said, "definitely it's not working" and if anything is doing the opposite of what was intended. "It's growth-inducing," she said.

Other commissioners were less critical of the city's growth blueprint, but still decided to postpone for approximately 90 days any update of Cloverdale's sphere of influence to resolve some of the issues.

"The complexities of this are pretty apparent," said Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, noting that in his own district, in the southwest portion of Santa Rosa, city and county boundaries resemble a game of "hopscotch."

"There are still a lot of questions to be answered," he said at the conclusion of a hearing stretching for more than 2-and-a-half hours.

Cloverdale officials say that Asti, founded in 1861, the same year as Cloverdale, has always been considered part of the community, with many residents working at the former Italian Swiss Colony winery.

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