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Transit-oriented plan for Petaluma delayed over SMART comments

An ambitious transit-oriented planning model for Petaluma's downtown and river area will return to the City Council with modifications after concerns were raised on several fronts late Monday night.

After lengthy discussion, council members asked the planning staff to investigate questions about SMART's intentions for land it owns that is central to the plan's "connectivity" from the river and downtown to SMART's planned commuter rail depot.

SMART officials created a wrinkle in the otherwise well-received plan with comments asserting their right to build something other than a rail depot on land owned by the rail authority that leads toward the Petaluma River and downtown.

"We just want the city to know that SMART does have the right to do something different here – not to say that it would, but it has that right," SMART planning manager John Nemeth told the council.

"The city should take that into account in its thinking about the plan. … There always remains the possibility that that property might not be available to the city."

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