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    Joan Cooper's Avatar
    Joan Cooper

    Destructive Dutra Asphalt Plant Challenged

    PR Release
    For Immediate release Jan 15, 2011

    Destructive Dutra Asphalt Plant Challenged
    Donations to Legal Defense Fund Needed

    Friends of Shollenberger
    PO Box 2114
    Petaluma, CA 94953

    The City of Petaluma, community groups and individual citizens seek a legal
    remedy to protect the environment from Dutra's asphalt plant construction
    and operations at Haystack Landing, Petaluma, Calif.

    Today, the City of Petaluma and a large coalition of citizen groups and
    individuals have filed a lawsuit challenging the Sonoma County Board of
    Supervisors' flawed approval on Dec. 14, 2011, of the Dutra Haystack Landing
    Asphalt and Recycling Plant. The Plaintiffs maintain that the Dutra Asphalt
    Plant would blight the gateway to Sonoma County and Petaluma, harm the
    health of residents, businesses and visitors, and negatively impact the
    development of our local and regional economy. The factory would injure and
    discourage birds, fish and wildlife which use the Petaluma River and Marsh.
    Plaintiffs also assert that the Dutra factory operations would also destroy
    the peace, beauty and appeal of the very popular and adjacent Shollenberger

    After actively participating in the County's review and approvals process
    over the past three years, the City of Petaluma, community organizations
    including the Petaluma River Council, Friends of Shollenberger Park, Madrone
    Audubon Society and Petaluma Tomorrow, along with thousands of individual
    citizens, are frustrated and disappointed that this project has been
    approved. The Plaintiffs have exhausted all other remedies with the County,
    and are left with no choice other than to seek judicial review of the
    approvals process and the impacts of the project itself.

    "The County's review and approvals process, and the Dutra project itself,
    are littered with numerous serious and irresponsible flaws," said Petaluma
    River Council Director David Keller.

    The County failed to properly apply the California Environmental Quality
    Act (CEQA), the county's General Plan, and land use law to identify the
    impacts caused by the project, to find alternatives that were less harmful,
    and to mitigate damages that were not otherwise avoidable, as required by
    the law. CEQA was put in place by the State of California to help ensure
    that our landscape, environment, health and well being would be protected
    from harm. The County failed to properly produce the CEQA-required single,
    clear, comprehensive and comprehensible Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
    for the entirety of the project, leaving the public, other agencies, and the
    decision makers ill-informed about project components, impacts and problems
    contained in the final plans approved.

    Sheri Chlebowski, President of Moms for Clean Air, stated: "Our children's
    health and the welfare of all of our City's residents must not be put at
    risk for the financial profit of one company."

    The errors and omissions include:
    - a patchwork of disorganized addenda and conclusions inadequately
    describing an ever-changing project without supporting analysis;
    - erroneous and misleading mapping of the River's navigable waterway and
    high-pressure PG&E gas transmission pipelines located under Dutra's
    riverfront parcel;
    - unmitigated traffic congestion and diesel exhaust air pollution from over
    145,000 truck trips per year;
    - failure to accurately and adequately address significant loud noise,
    odors, toxic and noxious emissions of gases and dusts from the asphalt
    manufacturing operations;
    - the assertion that the project is "river-dependent," when in fact it does
    not include any barge and tug transport and unloading of rock, gravel and
    sand at Dutra's properties. The project thus does not qualify for zoning and
    land use changes, and could be located on a less environmentally-sensitive
    - the County ignored the fact that sufficient, unused asphalt manufacturing
    capacity to serve the North Bay region's needs already exists without
    Dutra's factory, as stated in the Draft EIR.
    - the County failed to find any agreement by Shamrock Materials to make
    their adjacent property and barge landing facilities available to Dutra for
    receiving, unloading and transporting some 500,000 tons of sand and gravel
    components for asphalt production. Shamrock, as an integral component of
    the approved Dutra project, underwent no environmental review, even though
    the county has required destruction of .48 acre of wetlands on Shamrock's
    property to construct a conveyor belt to Dutra's site.
    - the County failed to honor and abide by the November 1998 Sonoma County
    voters' decision to protect the Dairy Belt Scenic Corridor against
    intensification and industrialization of agricultural and commercial lands.
    This voter-protected Scenic Corridor, in an area paralleling Highway 101
    from the Marin County line to the southern edge of Petaluma, includes the
    Dutra parcels. Instead, the County dismissed the voters' mandate and changed
    the land use and zoning to give Dutra the industrial designations that they
    wanted, without seeking the voter approvals required for that change.

    "Our county's elected officials have failed to use the laws in place to
    protect the electorate and the environment. Public parks and trails are
    crucial for the health and well-being of the community, especially in tough
    economic times, and must be protected," said Joan Cooper, spokesperson for
    Friends of Shollenberger Park.

    After some 100 years of abuse, filling, diking, development and
    destruction, the tidal wetlands of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays, along
    with their important tributaries such as the Petaluma River and Marsh, have
    been undergoing revitalization, renewal, restoration and preservation during
    the past 40 years. These tidal wetlands and rivers are essential to our
    region for fish and wildlife, water quality, recreation, commerce and flood
    management, and are the foundation of our regions' attractiveness and
    wealth. Millions of public and private dollars have been invested in the
    restoration and preservation of the upper Petaluma River and Marsh,
    including the city-owned Shollenberger Park, Alman Marsh, and the Ellis
    Creek Water Recycling facility with their popular trails, vistas and
    wildlife. Building and operating the Dutra asphalt manufacturing factory in
    the midst of these publicly-owned natural resources would destroy the work
    done by thousands of people and businesses, striving to return the river
    gateway for Petaluma and Sonoma County to its vibrant and productive

    The County's Brown Act violations are a significant barrier to public

    The County further compounded the erroneous and inadequate project review
    under CEQA by committing serious Brown Act and procedural violations. The
    Plaintiffs are demanding that the Board of Supervisors correct the
    substantial flaws of their December 14, 2010 public hearing and project
    approvals. The Board of Supervisors denied the public its right to comment
    on over 100 pages of critical new information released just hours prior to
    this final meeting. These documents were released without proper notice and
    distribution to public and agencies which had requested notification. No one
    from the public, including Petaluma's elected officials, were allowed to
    comment on the new information prior to the Supervisors vote to approve the
    project. The Supervisors also did not properly introduce and approve the two
    resolutions and ordinance approving the project and the environmental report
    and changing the land use designations for the site. This is a violation of
    state law and good public policy.

    "We are proud of the important work done by residents, businesses and
    organizations in Petaluma to protect our community's values, well-being and
    economy. The City of Petaluma unanimously joins with them to defend and
    protect our city and the gifts that surround us," said Petaluma Mayor David
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