J.D. Morris, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Nestled among wide rolling hills on the edge of the Two Rock Valley northwest of Petaluma, where generations of farmers have found fertile ground to support their livestock, the McClelland family’s vast open pasture provides ample room for cows to graze and scenic vistas that epitomize Sonoma County’s bucolic beauty.
Family members want their 330-acre property to stay that way forever, so the McClellands secured a deal with county officials this week to make it happen. Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday approved spending $1.88 million in taxpayer funds to conserve the property, ensuring it won’t be developed for housing and will remain as farmland.
The deal, about three years in the making, signals a landmark moment for the county’s Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, because the McClellands’ pasture connects seven other properties the county conserved over the past two decades.Including the latest pasture — known as Hansen Ranch after the family who owned it before the McClellands — the county has now formed a 2,900-acre contiguous stretch of protected farmland in the area, an effort meant to keep dairy farms and other agricultural uses thriving in the southwestern corner of the county.
Read more at: Sonoma County spends $1.88 million to protect McClelland family’s Two Rock pasture | The Press Democrat –
Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County officials are scaling back their ambitious plan to expand agricultural production on thousands of acres of county-owned land and public open space after the initial effort largely fell apart, with much of the acreage deemed too pricey or environmentally sensitive to be used for farming.
The initiative, launched four years ago, originally called for opening up as much as 1,900 acres on vacant county-owned lots, county park and open space land to budding farmers for crop production and livestock grazing.
But government officials charged with advancing the effort said they ultimately found only one of 17 identified sites suitable for developing as farmland at this point. Most of the vacant parcels lack sufficient water supplies, and many of the park properties contain sensitive wetlands or other wildlife habitat, including land covered by protections for the endangered California tiger salamander, according to Stephanie Larson, director of the University of California Cooperative Extension for Sonoma County.
Still, officials said they did find one grassy 45-acre plot on the eastern edge of Rohnert Park that could serve as a good proving ground for farmers just getting into the business. The idea, unveiled at this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, is to lease plots to budding farmers and ranchers who are interested in growing produce or raising livestock, akin to the business incubators that help entrepreneurs with funding and expertise to advance their ideas.
Supervisors this week endorsed the concept, pointing out that the county will benefit threefold — by supporting agriculture, encouraging a new generation of farmers and boosting the amount of food grown locally.
Read more via Sonoma County envisions small start in effort to | The Press Democrat.
Gary Quackenbush, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
The first significant housing development in Rohnert Park in 24 years is under way.
Site preparation has begun and construction on the first three of 12 new neighborhoods within the 260-acre Brookfield Residential Properties, Inc.’s portion of the 300-acre University District Specific Plan, is scheduled to begin in 2015 with a grand opening for these three neighborhoods set for later next year.
Some 399 new, single-family detached homes within the three neighborhoods will be built on a portion of a Brookfield University District mixed-use master planned community located west of Petaluma Hill Road, south of Keiser Avenue and North of the Rohnert Park Expressway adjacent to Sonoma State University.
Brookfield’s portion includes 1,236 residential detached homes and 218 attached residential units. The plan also includes a mixed–use commercial center, open space and public parks. Site preparation and grading began in July with DeSilva Gates Construction, according to Kevin Pohlson, Vice President for Land and Planning with Brookfield Residential’s Northern California office in Danville, the general contractor for the project. He said underground utilities installation work is scheduled to begin this month.
Read more via Home development gets underway in Rohnert Park – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.