Jeremy Hay, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A bucolic 9-acre pasture grazed by cows on Sonoma’s northwest edge has become an unlikely battleground of late, pitting local government officials who want use it to manage flood and drought concerns against neighbors who say the county promised to preserve it forever in its natural state.
The pasture, protected by what is known as a conservation easement, is the southern point of the 98-acre Montini Preserve, which spans the oak-studded hills above it. The Sonoma County Water Agency is eyeing the pasture for a $4 million detention basin big enough to hold almost 4 million gallons of water.
The proposal has a group of area residents up in arms.
The project would demonstrate “a blatant disregard for the imperative to preserve and conserve” the property, said Mary Nesbitt, who lives on Montini Way next to the pasture.
The neighbors contend, too, that the site is in other ways unsuited for a detention basin, and that the Water Agency and county have pursued the project without properly involving the public.