Petaluma council to tackle fireworks sales, planning picks Monday

Petaluma City Council members will tackle a half-dozen potentially thorny issues at their meeting Monday night, including adding another day of fireworks sales in July.

The council also is scheduled to make several appointments to various city boards, including the Planning Commission, which has been a politically charged effort in years past.

Other issues that could spark controversy: a revived effort to allow freeway-facing signs on businesses adjacent to Highway 101; an appeal by Target of its liquor license rejection; and changes to the city's zoning guidelines around the train station.

The council will also consider a request to sign a letter supporting a national tax on fossil fuels and a report on how a nonprofit agency is running Petaluma's animal shelter after taking over last year from the city.

This is the second year that local nonprofit agencies have asked the city to allow a fifth day of fireworks sales, saying they are at a competitive disadvantage because Rohnert Park allows one more day of sales. Nonprofit agencies operate fireworks booths to raise money, often as the main fund-raiser of the year.

Last year, city staff members advised the city it was too late to change. Although it is also last-minute this year, the council agreed to consider the request.

If the council were to allow an extra day, it would have to pass a new city ordinance on an urgency basis, which would require a special meeting, likely next week, and unanimous agreement by the council that the move is necessary to preserve the "public peace, health or safety."

The council is also set to make a series of votes appointing applicants for several volunteer city boards, including the Planning Commission. While most won't generate controversy, the Planning Commission choices could.

Four years ago, a previous council combined two planning and design review boards into one, resulting in a Planning Commission that sought tighter restrictions on growth and greater control over development proposals.

Seventeen applicants have applied for four Planning Commission seats. The appointments could create a wholesale turnover similar to the 2009 conversion.

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