An environmentalist and local officials are cautiously promoting an Amazon fulfillment center project being planned near the Charles Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.
At least they like the proposed location because it is zoned commercial. However, they want to see more details, especially any study on the impact this will have on surrounding traffic.
The center is expected to be located on unincorporated county land bordered by the City of Windsor and the Mark West Springs area in Santa Rosa.
A request from the retail giant was processed by Permit Sonoma, the county’s planning department, in February.
Amazon is proposing to build an 181,500 square foot warehouse on part of a 41-acre parcel of land. The plot is located at 5015, boul. Aviation, at the intersection with Brickway Boulevard.
The site is located between Skylane Boulevard and Highway 101, north of the airport.
The proposed project is described as “a storage, wholesale and distribution facility”.
Amazon spokeswoman in Northern California Natalie Wolfrom said there was no contract in place between the company and the landowner, Airport Business Center yet.
“It is too early to say what will happen in this area, but I can follow you once we know more and the deals are made,” she told The Press Democrat.
Bradley Dunn, policy officer at Permit Sonoma, the county’s planning arm, said the latest on the project was that the applicant, Airport Business Center, had requested that an easement on Jetway be released to accommodate the project.
He said Permit Sonoma “is still evaluating demand.”
The airport business center declined to comment and could be limited by a nondisclosure agreement, according to Sonoma County supervisor James Gore, who said his office had been in contact with officials at the airport. airport business center.
“My take on land use and development is that if something is zoned for commercial use or whatever use someone is looking for, I’m generally in favor,” Gore said during a telephone interview. “It’s a commercial park and it’s a commercial application, so I generally agree. “
But, he continued, “What we need to know is if this is a hub that will actually reduce traffic? Sometimes having something nearby to use is actually a good thing, ”said Gore, referring to the many Amazon vans coming from more remote distribution facilities in other parts of the Bay Area.
“It doesn’t change anybody’s buying habits,” he said. “It’s far from being a big box store. I’m interested in their business plan and … how it affects the community. People can already buy things from Amazon and have them delivered the next day. I buy things from Amazon and also try to support local businesses and that way I would know that I am supporting a local business.
Gore, who drove to the site, said “this area is expanding and it’s an empty field. There is also a hotel in this area and a proposal to provide housing for the workforce. This area is designed and zoned for growth.
He stressed that the project would be built at the “northernmost pinch point of (highway) 101, so there has to be a proper traffic analysis.”
There have been some general and public improvements to the site, which were approved before the company applied to build the facility, said Dunn of Permit Sonoma.
The project is still under development and is in the planning approval phase. Dunn did not respond to a question about the latest progress on the project. He did not have information on the cost of constructing the project, the incentives for taxpayers or the number of jobs it could create in the area.
Christine Palmer, a member of the county’s economic development board, said that to her knowledge, no tax incentives had been offered to Amazon.
Tom Conlon, an energy efficiency consultant who sits on the executive committee of the Sonoma County Sierra Club, said that “the airport area is a good place for a distribution warehouse. The Sierra Club did not take a position on Amazon’s fulfillment center there. But obviously there will be a local impact. … We should look at the impact on traffic. Certainly, it makes more sense to place it near an airport than a green site.
A proposed freight terminal at the busy intersection of Eighth Street East and Fremont Drive near Sonoma was rejected for the second time before the Sonoma Valley Citizens’ Advisory Board in August. Conlon, who lives in Sonoma, said he had more problems with this proposed 250,000 square foot warehouse than he had at the airport.