Saggio Hills, the controversial luxury resort and residential development proposed north of Healdsburg, is on its way to being annexed into the city.
Despite a pending lawsuit against the project, the Sonoma County Local Agency Formation Commission tentatively approved the annexation of the 259 acres into Healdsburg.
On a 6-0 vote last week, the commission tentatively approved the application initiated by the developer, Sonoma Luxury Resort LLC, to incorporate the land. LAFCO members are expected to formalize their approval of the annexation at their March 4 meeting.
The developer late last year received approval from the Healdsburg City Council for the 130-room destination resort with bungalows, spa and meeting facilities, along with 70 high-end homes.
Also included is a site for up to 150 affordable housing dwellings, a large community park, fire substation and a system of public and private trails.
LAFCO noted the land is within the city?s voter-approved urban growth boundary and almost two-thirds of the property is projected to remain as open space. It found the proposed density is below the maximum allowed under the city?s general plan and the city appears capable of extending services to the property.
?It seemed like a great project for Healdsburg,? LAFCO commissioner and Windsor Town Council member Steve Allen said Tuesday. ?I think that they have done their homework.?
But opponents of Saggio Hills, who have filed a lawsuit challenging the environmental impact report for the project, have a different perspective.
Warren Watkins of Healdsburg Citizens for Sustainable Solutions, told LAFCO that Saggio Hills is a ?super luxury project? and will take up scarce water resources. He said it will increase the city?s electricity demands by 27 percent and lead to the removal of more than 1,500 oak trees.
Watkins argued the project should not be annexed until it is scaled down. Previously, he said his group is willing to allow the hotel resort with its bed tax generating potential to proceed, but wants the number of luxury homes to be reduced to less than 30.
Developers have said eliminating that many homes is not financially feasible.
The court hearing on the Saggio Hills lawsuit will likely occur this spring, according to Watkins.
LAFCO Executive Officer Richard Bottarini said if the court find the environmental studies deficient, the annexation would need to be redone.