Settlement close in Sebastopol CVS lawsuits

Sebastopol, CVS and a citizens group have reached a tentative settlement in a pair of lawsuits over the drugstore chain's downtown project. The settlement allows the company to move forward with its pharmacy at the busy intersection of Petaluma and Sebastopol avenues after agreeing to drop a proposed drive-thru window, the feature that drew the most heated opposition.

"I think it's a big win for the city," said councilwoman Sarah Gurney. "This settlement reflects the preferences of the community."

The agreement, which was reached Tuesday and must be approved by the council later this month, puts an end to an issue that had roiled the city for three years. Two new council members were elected in 2012 on a wave of opposition to the project.

After the city in 2011 signed off on the initial plans for the development on the 2.5-acre former Pellini auto dealership, a group called Small Town Sebastopol sued the city and Armstrong Development, saying the environmental study for the proposed CVS and Chase Bank was flawed. The new city council in late 2012 placed a moratorium on drive-thrus, which essentially halted CVS's plans. CVS then sued the city over the ban.

City Manager Larry McLaughlin said the settlement frees up money the city had budgeted to fight the costly lawsuits.

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