Novato council delays Hamilton vote amid residents’ complaints

Updated: Jun 2, 2018

POSTED: 03/31/17, 5:51 PM PDT | UPDATED: ON 04/02/2017

Author: Stephanie Weldy

Publication: Marin Independent Journal

Hamilton residents Marie Hoch, left, and Tracey Ruiz had raised concerns that the city of Novato was going to sell the Hamilton Theater parcel for a housing development. Robert Tong — Marin Independent Journal


The Novato City Council this week pushed off plans to call for developers’ proposals for three city-owned parcels at Hamilton amid concern from residents that the process was moving too fast.

City Manager Regan Candelario announced at Tuesday’s meeting that the council would hold off on a vote. The council will consider the issue in April.

“There’s obviously still a need and desire from community members who want to provide input and share information with staff and with the City Council,” Candelario said.

Hamilton residents turned out en masse to ask that the item be postponed.

“We need time to build that vision and to use resources and talent of the city ...,” said Hamilton resident Tracey Ruiz, who wants the Town Center parcel pulled from consideration. “We don’t have to do it all now.”

Deed restrictions were lifted last March from the Hamilton Town Center property on Palm Drive, the Bachelors’ Officers Quarters on San Pablo Avenue and the commissary parcel on State Access Road to allow for development.

The parcels were initially given to the city through the federal Lands to Parks program. Under the program, the parcels could not be sold and were required to be used for recreation. The restrictions were transferred to 93 acres around the Marin Valley Mobile Country Club to preserve the open space.

Saratoga-based Avesta Development Group, a developer interested in restoring the Town Center parcel, emerged last month, proposing to rehabilitate the Hamilton theater for public use and adding senior housing and park space. The proposal was withdrawn after residents protested.

Councilwoman Pat Eklund applauded the move to hold off on Tuesday’s discussion.

“I think this will make it a lot better,” she said. “We can have a dedicated meeting and have a lot of discussion about this item.”

Barbara O’Grady, a long-time Hamilton resident, said she was happy the issue was delayed.

“The kind of development we want can be developed between now and the April meeting,” she said.

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