Sonoma Hospital Board Votes to Drop Eminent Domain Bid: CBS-TV5 (San Francisco CA), 4/13/06

With the overwhelming support of Sonoma residents, the Sonoma Valley Hospital District's board of directors voted unanimously tonight to begin negotiating the purchase of 15 acres of land at Broadway and Napa Road to build a new hospital.

The five members of the board also voted unanimously to rescind the board's support for Measure C, a $148 million bond measure. If passed, the measure would have authorized the seizure through eminent domain of 16 acres of farmland owned by the Leveroni family in order to construct a 70-bed, 150,000-square foot hospital.

"The whole Leveroni chapter is over," said Steve Page, co-chair of the Save Our Hospital Committee.

The vote followed two hours of public comment in meeting so well attended it had to be moved to a larger room, Sonoma resident Bruce Stephens said.

Three of the five parcels of land now set to be the site for the new hospital were purchased by Stephens on April 4 solely for the purpose of making possible an alternative site for the facility, he explained tonight.

The two other parcels are owned by the Sarafini and Zepponi families, according to Page. They contain a home and the Moose Lodge.

The new site is on the southwest corner of Broadway and Napa Road, just outside the city limits.

Stephens has signed contracts with the hospital board to assign the properties to them, he said.

Overall, there's a huge sigh of relief in this town, Stephens said. "Now we can start to bring the community together" and talk about what we need in a hospital and how big it should be, he added.

Environmentalists and conservationists had sided with the Leveroni family in opposing Measure C, claiming a new facility on Leveroni land would be located in a greenbelt around Sonoma and would open the door to urban sprawl.

Tonight's vote makes the results of the Measure C election moot, although Sonoma County Election officials have said the election can't be stopped. The voters' mail-in ballots were mailed out April 3 and will be counted May 2.

CBS-TV5: http://cbs5.com