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Rohnert Park studies how to develop area near casino

Rohnert Park's northwest edge already is colored by the prospect of great change, with work under way on a 534,000-square-foot Indian casino resort.

Now, city officials have started planning how an adjacent 90-acre neighborhood will develop — decisions that may be shaped in large part by the casino project and a few large-property owners.

"It's the last specific plan envisioned in our general plan; we're moving forward," said Planning and Building Manager Marilyn Ponton, referring to the 2000 document that sketched where and how the city would grow.

A community meeting to gather input is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

The area under study now is open fields and a few scattered homes. It's currently designated variously for commercial, industrial, mixed-use, residential, high-density and park uses, but that may well change after community input, Ponton said.

The area borders the 254-acre Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria reservation on the north and east and stretches north behind Home Depot and Wal-Mart. Although it falls within Rohnert Park's sphere of influence, the city has yet to annex the property.

Station Casinos, the Graton Rancheria's Las Vegas backer, owns 34 acres of it, at the southern end. Dallas-based Cypress Equities owns about 17 acres on Wilfred Avenue, near the center of the area, which consists of 35 separate parcels.

City leaders say they see it as the site of primarily commercial development, although the general plan also allows for housing as well as two to four acres of park land.

"I think it's going to be shopping centers and that kind of stuff," Councilman Joe Callinan said. "That's what brings in tax dollars."

In 2006, Station Casinos executives said they would build an upscale shopping center on their land.


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