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Neighbors sue to halt Safeway gas station construction in Petaluma

Yousef Baig, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER

A controversial Safeway gas station project is on hold pending approval of a city permit. Meanwhile, a group of residents that has filed a lawsuit to stop the east Petaluma project will likely seek a temporary injunction to pause work on the site while the case makes its way through the courts.

Save Petaluma, which is attempting to overturn the city council’s April 1 decision to deny an appeal and approve the 335 South McDowell Blvd. project, filed the suit in Sonoma County Superior Court this month, naming Petaluma as the respondent and Safeway as the real party of interest.

So far, Safeway has applied for a demolition permit for the current structure at the corner of the Washington Square Shopping Center, but the permit application is still under review, according to city officials.

Patrick Soluri, the Sacramento-based attorney representing Save Petaluma, said he will likely pursue an injunction to freeze construction efforts at the site until the case has been decided. Had Safeway been authorized and demolition had gotten underway, the corporation would have been protected under what’s known as a vested rights doctrine.

“We would seek injunctive relief if necessary to protect the citizens of Petaluma and also preserve the integrity of land-use and environmental decision-making in the city,” Soluri said in an email.

Read more at https://www.petaluma360.com/news/9625724-181/petaluma-reviews-safeway-gas-station

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Temporary ban on Petaluma gas stations fails

Lori A. Carter, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Petaluma City Council on Monday night rejected a proposed moratorium on gas stations that would have prohibited Safeway from building a fueling station in front of its North McDowell Boulevard store.

A temporary urgency ordinance – commonly called a moratorium – would have required the approval of six of seven council members.

As council members began discussing the issue, it soon became clear that Councilman Mike Healy, who sought the moratorium, wouldn’t even get a majority on his side. In a straw vote, only Healy, Gabe Kearney and Kathy Miller supported a 45-day ban to buy the council time to craft tighter regulations on gas stations.

“We should just follow the process we already have in place,” said Councilman Mike Harris, saying businesses should be able to rely on existing rules when they “make investments in our community.”

Councilwoman Teresa Barrett was conflicted in her vote. She said she opposes the gas station project on whole, but doesn’t support blanket bans.

Read more at: https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/1857348-181/temporary-ban-on-petaluma-gas