Planning Commission expects packed house for meeting

While the hearing is focused on noise issues, opponents are gearing up for battle over whether the aggregate processing operation should be permitted at all.

Anticipating a large crowd, the Planning Commission will convene the 2 p.m. hearing in chambers usually used by county supervisors.

The Planning Commission already has recommended approval of the project's environmental report on a 3-1 vote. It is reviewing the matter again because the county doesn't have a noise policy to govern the plant's proposed barge and off-loading operations, according to county project planner Steve Padovan.

Opposition leaders, such as former Petaluma councilman David Keller, said that since the final EIR has not been certified, state environmental law allows residents to comment on any aspect of the proposal.

"The basic question is whether Sonoma County supervisors are going to respect the General Plan and Urban Growth Boundary of Petaluma or not," Keller said. He noted that the councils of Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Healdsburg and Cloverdale have voted in opposition to the plant.

Dutra Materials Inc. is seeking a new use permit for a relocated asphalt production plant on the Petaluma River across from Shollenberger Park. Proponents say it would provide a consistent source of material for road and building construction and would help disperse aggregate production away from Forestville's two rock quarries.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take up the proposal on May 12.

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