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Sonoma County supervisors endorse airport terminal expansion


Given a PowerPoint-aided tour of a proposed $25 million addition to the terminal at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, county supervisors on Tuesday approved of the project that comes with one large catch: it depends on securing a federal grant.

“It is a great airport to fly in and out of,” Board Chairman David Rabbitt said, noting it is “easy to park” and “people are friendly.”

“What you do there is so important for this county,” Supervisor Susan Gorin told the tour guide, Airport Manager Jon Stout.

Gorin personally values the United Airlines service to Denver started in March, facilitating visits to and from her grandchildren, 18 months and 4 years old.

But the airport, which started commercial service with about 109,000 passengers in 2007, is a bit of a victim of its own success, measured by carrying more than 440,000 passengers last year and nearly 90,000 in the first three months of this year.

The 15,000-square-foot terminal is already congested at peak midday hours, and the crowding will get worse as summer arrives with as many as 17 flights a day, Stout said.

There will be four flights in some two-hour periods, funneling up to 600 people through the terminal that houses airline ticket counters, baggage collection and various kiosks.

The proposed 30,000-square-foot expansion would include a two-lane passenger checkpoint, up to 350 seats, new restrooms, four more ticket counters, a new concession area and a larger “meet-and-greet” area for welcoming incoming passengers, Stout said.


Posted on Categories Air, Land UseTags , , , Leave a comment on Santa Rosa asphalt plant wins final round in prolonged court fight

Santa Rosa asphalt plant wins final round in prolonged court fight


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.


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Sonoma bans some leaf blowers; opponents vow ballot fight 

A divided Sonoma City Council on Monday adopted a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers within city limits, a move that would make the city of 11,000 the first in Sonoma County and one of the few nationwide to enforce such restrictions.
But the council’s action before a packed crowd does not end the city’s years-long debate over the landscaping devices. Opponents vowed to push forward with plans for a citywide referendum to delay and possibly overturn the prohibition.
The ordinance otherwise takes effect July 1. It would ban gas-powered blowers in Sonoma but allow the continued use of electric and battery-powered devices, albeit under more limited hours of operation. Commercial operators, as well as private property owners and tenants, could be subject to fines if they are caught using gas blowers.
Councilman David Cook called the ordinance a good compromise after years of debate.“It’s time we put something on the books in this town,” he said.
Mayor Laurie Gallian and Councilwoman Madolyn Agrimonti joined Cook in supporting the ordinance. Councilwoman Rachel Hundley and Councilman Gary Edwards were opposed.
Read more at: Sonoma bans some leaf blowers; opponents vow ballot fight | The Press Democrat

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Santa Rosa's BoDean asphalt plant takes steps to reduce noise

The company that operates an asphalt plant near downtown Santa Rosa has outlined how it intends to comply with city noise rules it currently violates.
Following noise complaints from several neighbors over the summer, the BoDean Co. performed a sound study that confirmed its Maxwell Drive plant exceeds permissible noise levels, especially at night.
The company recently submitted a plan for how it intends over the next six months to reduce the racket created by heavy machinery that heats sand and gravel, mixes it with oily binder and dumps loads of hot, goopy asphalt into awaiting trucks.
“It’s going to be a significant investment,” said Bill Williams, general manager of BoDean. “This equipment is older equipment, so that’s one reason it’s so noisy.
”After a neighborhood group that wants greater restrictions on the plant paid for a sound study, the company conducted its own. That analysis found the plant exceeded the noise limits by up to 7 decibels during the daytime and 13 decibels at night. While the findings didn’t perfectly match neighbors’, the figures were close.
The company proposed a three-phase plan to muffle the noise. The first phase would be to build a noise-dampening wall around a large piece of equipment called a baghouse, which Williams likened to a large vacuum cleaner.
Rear more at: Santa Rosa’s BoDean asphalt plant takes steps to | The Press Democrat

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

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

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Winery projects moving forward in Sonoma Valley off Highway 12


A Valley of the Moon Alliance (VOTMA) survey tallying an influx of tasting rooms and special events permitted in Sonoma Valley found that since 2004 the county has given new and existing wineries permission to hold nearly 300 additional events in the valley.
Link to VOTMA 2014 survey

Two stalled winery projects along a scenic section of Highway 12 outside Santa Rosa could break ground as soon as this year following the $1.4 million sale of one of the properties.
The wineries, slated for neighboring parcels on the north side of Highway 12, with views of nearby Hood Mountain and Annadel State Park, were approved in 2012 and 1999 by a county zoning board. The projects drew little public scrutiny at the time, but their advancement now has raised concerns in Sonoma Valley about the additional traffic, noise and other impacts the adjacent businesses could generate.
The worries reflect not just the outlook of some neighbors — Oakmont sits directly across the highway and Kenwood is just to the east — but the escalating Wine Country debate about the expansion of wineries, and especially those that double as event centers, into rural pockets of Sonoma County.
Read more at: Winery projects moving forward in Sonoma Valley off | The Press Democrat