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Santa Rosa asphalt plant wins final round in prolonged court fight

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A judge this week blocked Santa Rosa officials from requiring an asphalt plant to get a use permit for equipment installed more than a decade ago.

The city has long maintained the BoDean Co. did an array of work at its Maxwell Drive facility between 2005 and 2007 without the proper permits.

BoDean officials have countered that their special status as a facility that predates and is therefore exempt from current residential zoning code meant they either didn’t need any permits for such work, or didn’t need the more in-depth use permits. Such permits require a prolonged process that can involve hearings before the Planning Commission and restrictions on uses of the property.

This week, however, Sonoma County Superior Court Judge René Chouteau, a former city attorney, sided with BoDean, ruling that the asphalt plant, which has been operated continuously since the 1950s, had vested rights that the city needed to respect.

Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8526921-181/santa-rosa-asphalt-plant-wins

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Water regulator to deny Dutra permit

Matt Brown, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER

In its letter to the company, the water board said that Dutra did not properly study alternative sites for the asphalt plant.
“After review of the Alternatives Analysis, we have determined that the Applicant has not yet demonstrated that the proposed Project constitutes the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative,” the board wrote in the letter. “As such, the Alternatives Analysis is inadequate.”

A regional water regulator intends to deny a permit for the Dutra Group, dealing a serious setback to the company’s contentious plans to build an asphalt plant along the Petaluma River just south of the city.
The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board sent a letter on Nov. 1 telling the company that its application is incomplete.
“We’ve told them of our intention to deny their permit,” said Fred Hetzel, an environmental scientist who is working on the Dutra permit for the water board. “(The denial) will come within the month.”
The water board permit is a key approval that the company needs before it can start construction on the long planned asphalt plant on 38 acres of land at Haystack Landing. The company also needs permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bay Area Air Quality District and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Read more at: Water regulator to deny Dutra permit

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Work begins at site of Dutra’s Petaluma plant

Matt Brown, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER
Work has begun at the site of a controversial asphalt plant just outside of Petaluma, a long planned facility that environmentalists have said will degrade sensitive wetlands along the Petaluma River.
The Dutra Group has started site improvements on the 38-acre property at Haystack landing on the southern edge of Petaluma. Workers have installed a septic system and Sonoma County is in the final stages of issuing the company a permit to begin grading for phase one of the project, which includes space for a new station for the San Antonio Volunteer Fire Department, according to the county planning department.
The company still needs several state and federal permits in order to receive final permission from the county to begin the bulk of the construction.
“We’re being very cautious,” said Gary Helfrich, the county planner working on the project. “There’s a lot of passion about this project. We want to make sure that when and if we issue permits, we do it correctly.”
Dutra first proposed the asphalt plant in 2004. A political hot potato, it was narrowly approved by the county Board of Supervisors in 2010, and opponents almost immediately filed a legal challenge. A series of court rulings upheld the project, and the company has since moved forward in seeking necessary permits.
Read more at: Work begins at site of Dutra’s Petaluma plant | Petaluma Argus Courier | Petaluma360.com

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Santa Rosa suspends new BoDean asphalt contract to speed resolution of dispute

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Santa Rosa is holding up a nearly $800,000 contract with a local asphalt plant until its owners comply with laws the city says it has violated going back a decade.
The City Council approved a new contract with BoDean Co. Tuesday but suspended its execution until the company resolves several outstanding building code and permit violations on its Maxwell Drive property.
The council took the unusual step even though city staff warned that it would prevent the city from utilizing the most convenient local source of asphalt during the height of the summer road construction season.
Read more at: Santa Rosa suspends new BoDean asphalt contract to speed resolution of dispute | The Press Democrat

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Study by BoDean Co. asphalt plant confirms it exceeds Santa Rosa's noise limits

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The BoDean Co. asphalt plant in Santa Rosa routinely exceeds the noise limits set by the city, a study commissioned by the company has found. The new study confirms the findings of a June analysis paid for by a group of neighbors who for years have complained about noise, dust and noxious odors from the Maxwell Drive operation.
Both studies were conducted by professional sound engineering firms taking measurements from residential areas around the plant. Both reached the conclusion that noise from the plant exceeded city standards during daytime and nighttime hours when measured from the homes closest to the plant.
“There is no discrepancy as far as the results between the two studies,” BoDean general manager Bill Williams said.
That initial analysis, paid for by Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods, and a series of code enforcement complaints lodged against the facility by neighbors caused the city to open an investigation into the matter over the summer.
The first analysis, conducted by Petaluma acoustics firm Illingworth & Rodkin Inc., showed the plant exceeded the daytime limit of 60 decibels by up to 4 decibels. It exceeded the evening limit of 55 decibels by up to 9 decibels, and exceeded the nighttime limit of 50 decibels by up to 14 decibels.
The city’s noise thresholds are considered exceeded when levels are more than 5 decibels above the ambient noise levels established for various types of land uses.
As part of the investigation, the city asked BoDean to conduct its own study. The company hired RDG Acoustics of Larkspur and submitted a six-page preliminary analysis to the city this week.
That analysis was slightly different but still found that the plant violated the daytime and evening noise standards. The study found the plant exceeded the noise limits by up to 7 decibels during the daytime and 13 decibels at night.
Read more at: Study by BoDean Co. asphalt plant confirms it | The Press Democrat