The 3-0 vote included two abstentions by councilmembers John Mayer and Phil Salerno, who said they abstained for both personal and professional reasons.
The 694-acres of land located west of the Pyramid Highway and south of Eagle Canyon Drive will next appear before the Regional Planning Commission Wednesday for their approval, the developer said.
Kraig Knudsen, vice president of Tanamera Development and the developer on the mixed-use project, said that he hopes to start construction next summer at the earliest, market conditions willing.
“If the economy (remains the way it is), it could take longer,” Knudsen said.
Following the city’s vote, the Sonoma Highlands development will have gained the approval of the Sparks Planning Commission on June 5 and the Regional Planning Commission on Aug. 13.
City staff recommended the project’s approval in preliminary staff materials.
The development’s goal, Knudsen said, is to “provide good housing for the city of Sparks.”
“It will hopefully create a great neighborhood for people to live in,” Knudsen said.
City staff found the proposed land use to be in compliance with the West Pyramid Plan, which outlines future land use for about 3,000 acres that lies west of the Pyramid Highway, north of Wedekind Road and south of Eagle Canyon Drive. The approved zoning change makes up about 20 percent of the West Pyramid Planning area.
The handbook for the new development depicts a mix of homes, townhouses, apartments, parks and commercial development in the hills north of Jesse Hall Elementary School. The handbook states that access would be provided by a planned extension of Calle De La Plata and Lazy 5 Parkway.
The rezoning from an agricultural to a new urban district designation allows for about 12 acres of commercial and office land use, according to the development’s tentative handbook. The development would be comprised of 27 percent open space and parks, 61 percent retail and housing, 9 percent roadways and 3 percent retail, school and service uses. The developer also said that space was set aside for a fire station, an expansion for Jesse Hall Elementary and infrastructure for a new school.
The tentative handbook also places a 200-foot buffer of land between the development and existing homeowners' property.
Twelve area residents spoke at Monday’s meeting in opposition to the project.
“I am disappointed,” said area resident Nancy Danner. “I am not surprised at all ... but we still have a fight to fight.”
In addition to those who spoke under public comment, 60 children from Jesse Hall Elementary signed a letter saying that they opposed the development because they wanted to protect the animals in the area.
One man who spoke under public comment was asked to leave the chambers after speaking out of turn from the audience.