The Windsor Times – August 20, 2009

By Matthew Hall, Times Editor.

WUSD to seek fees from Rancheria

DISPUTED CLAIM — The Lytton Rancheria tribe are proposing 147 housing units just west of Windsor. The recently filed environmental report states there will be no impact on local schools. - Image provided
Residents have until August 31 to file written comments

by Matthew Hall
Times Editor

Published: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:57 PM PDT

The Windsor Unified School District is preparing a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs that opposes taking the land west of Windsor into federal trust unless the project were to provide funding to address the expected increase in students.

The Lytton Rancheria tribe of California has filed paperwork with federal regulators to begin the process of moving 92 acres of land bordering Windsor into a federal trust and residents have until August 31 to file comment on the proposal.

The Environmental Assessment Report states “because most of the children expected to live in these homes already live within Sonomacounty, there would be no significant net increase in enrollment in local schools. Therefore, no adverse impacts to local school districts would occur, and no mitigation measures are warranted.”

Superintendent Steve Herrington told the School Board on August 18 that he believed the project documentation was flawed. He said students might already live in SonomaCounty but relocating those students to Windsor would have an impact on the district and furthermore, the assumptions in the report seemed to be based on a traditional neighborhood school model rather than Windsor’s cluster configuration.

“Those students will come to our schools and will want services but they won’t have to bear the burden of the bond passed by voters,” he said. “there needs to be a mitigation, there needs to be an offset.”

According to the environmental assessment prepared by the Bureau of Indian Affairs the preferred option includes 147 residential units including 95 single family homes, 24 cottage style houses, 28 high density housing units, a 18,809 square foot community center, 2,500 foot roundhouse and 2,707 foot retreat.

The site is located approximately 150 feet south of Windsor’s town limits but approximately 21 acres fall within the Town’s Sphere of Influence, Urban Growth Boundary and Special Planning area E. The proposed project calls for receiving water and sewer services from the Town, something town officials have already ruled out.

Alternative A calls for police services to be provided by the Windsor Police Department and the Sonoma County Sheriff. Fire services would be provided by CalFire.

The proposal also includes an Alternative B and C. The first contains the same quantity of housing, but uses onsite water production and disposal.

The final alternative is for a reduced size project containing a total of 55 residential units.

At the August 18 meeting, Herrington said if the proposed project were built under county jurisdiction, WUSD could receive more than $300,000 in developer fees. If the project were taken into a federal trust, the district would receive nothing. He told the school board that he would like to see the proposal brought into line with existing policies regarding fees and assessments.

School board member Sandra Dobbins said she wanted to be able to provide for the children who would come into the district and that developer fees were a fair and equitable way to fund education. “It goes back to serving the kids,” she said. “We’re not serving the kids if we can’t get adequate funding to put them in a classroom.”

Individual neighbors bordering the property have received extra time to file their comments, however a request by the Town of Windsor for an extension has been denied. The school district was not noticed regarding the publication of the trust application but despite the lack of communication, Herrington said he didn’t think the District would receive an extension. He said he is working with legal council to prepare a formal letter outlining the districts concern by the August 31 deadline.

Physical copies of the environmental assessment are available for public review at the Lytton Rancheria, Tribal Administration Office located at 1300 North Dutton Ave. Suite A, Santa RosaCA95401, telephone 575-5917, or at the Windsor Public Library located at 9291 Old Redwood Highway #100WindsorCalifornia95492, telephone 838-1020. An electronic version is available online at

Written comments should be mailed to Dale Morris, Regional Director, Pacific Regional Office, 2800 Cottage WaySacramentoCalifornia95825. Call 916-978-6044 for more information. The public comment period for the environmental assessment will end on August 31, 2009.