Three month cool-off in Lafferty Ranch dispute

A lawsuit against the owners of land surrounding Petaluma's Lafferty Ranch has been placed on hold for three months in hopes that the opposing sides can reach a compromise that would forestall further legal action.

The two sides will meet next week to create a framework from which a settlement might be negotiated.

Legal battles surrounding public access to the land date back decades and bring with them animosity and distrust from previous skirmishes. Advocates for a public park on the 270 acres northeast of Petaluma filed suit in January, reviving their argument that adjacent property owners cannot legally block access to the landlocked parcel.

But both sides recently signed an agreement with the court for a 90-day negotiation period.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, which include private citizens, Friends of Lafferty Park and the city of Petaluma, believe newly discovered deeds dating to the Civil War era will tilt the legal scales in their favor.

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