The Sonora City Council will meet at 5 p.m. Monday in City Hall at 94 N. Washington St. in Sonora.

Two projects that have generated some debate in the past will go back before the Sonora City Council at a public meeting on Monday.

The council will review and consider providing direction on updated plans for proposed changes to the intersection at the top of North Washington Street near St. James Episcopal Church, also known as the Red Church.

There will also be a discussion and possible action taken by the council to approve environmental review documents for a proposal to close and convert Linoberg Street into a park between South Washington and South Stewart streets.

Both projects were first proposed in the Vision Sonora Plan that was adopted by the council in 2013.

Red Church intersection

Several stakeholders expressed concerns with 35-percent-completed plans for the proposed Red Church intersection project that were released in early December.

An open house was held at City Hall on Dec. 11 to answer questions and receive comments about the proposed plans for the project.

The plans have since been revised and appear to simplify the proposed changes.

A landscaped bulbout in front of the building that formerly housed Dorothea’s Christmas has been greatly reduced in size and no longer would require vehicles to make as sharp of a right-turn on Snell Street to go south on Washington Street.

There were some concerns from officials at Sonora Union High School District about how difficult the turn would be for buses as previously proposed in early December.

Crosswalks at and near the intersection would include solar-powered flashing beacons for pedestrians.

One of the reasons for the project is to improve pedestrian safety and reduce the number of accidents at the intersection.

If the council approves 35-percent plans, then consultants at Willdan Engineering would continue work on the 60-percent plans.

Plans must be submitted to Caltrans in May for the city to receive the rest of a $722,000 state grant that would pay for the construction.

Linoberg Street closure

The council will also consider approving a mitigated negative declaration for a proposed project to close and convert the eastern section of Linoberg Street into a park.

The declaration essentially means that the city has studied the project and determined that any potential impacts on the environment would be less than significant with certain measures.

City Administrator Tim Miller said that the approval of the document would not automatically authorize the closure of the street, which would have to be done by the council at a later date.

“If the MND is approved, the process would be for the design committee to present its final design plan for the council to consider for the closure,” he said.

In September 2017, the council directed city staff to work with the Vision Sonora Community Design and Marketing Subcommittee on conceptual improvement plan for the street.

The decision to continue moving the project forward came after a traffic study determined that closing the street to vehicles would not cause any major impacts on traffic in the downtown area.

Initial designs for the proposed park were presented to the council at a meeting in April, when the council also directed city staff to prepare the state-required environmental review documents.

Some have argued against the closure of the street because they believe it would make traffic congestion worse in the downtown area, while supporters have said it would add to the beautification of the city and enhance commerce.

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