South county Supervisor Mike Kerns, a supporter of the new asphalt plant, recently announced his decision not to run again. And while the rest of Sonoma County?s supervisors may be immune from the wrath of south county voters who are opposed to the project, state and federal
representatives who aren?t insulated made it clear last Saturday that getting Dutra?s asphalt plant on line will take more than the supervisors? OK.
Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Mark Leno D-San Francisco all represent Petaluma voters to one degree or another.
Huffman assembled supporters and opponents of the Dutra Group?s Haystack Landing Asphalt & Recycling Facility to air their positions in front of state and federal agency representatives who will have the final say over the plant?s future if county supervisors approve it. They voted 4-1 in favor in a straw vote last February with Santa Rosa?s supervisor Shirlee Zane the lone vote against. (Valerie Brown, Efren Carrillo and Paul Kelley joined Kerns in favoring the plant.)
?We have the largest land-use issue in Sonoma County, at least this decade,? Lynn Woolsey said, speaking to an overflow audience sitting in chairs, leaning against walls, sprawling on the floor and crowding every doorway of a small meeting room at the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building on Saturday morning.
?It?s very important at the state and federal levels that what goes on here and what comes out of it, that we are absolutely certain that the state and federal agencies weigh in and know what they are doing and that we hold them accountable, because this is very important to all of us,? Woolsey continued. ?And not just all who are in this room today, but the future, our children and their children.?
Huffman was clear about why he was there.
?This is a project that has taken on county-wide and regional significance. It has many levels of approvals, many twists and turns ahead of it involving state and federal agencies and it has in many ways driven a wedge through the county,? he said.
?This is obviously something a lot bigger than a narrow, little land use decision. Many people see it as a major public health issue. Others see it as a major wildlife issue and as a threat to the recreational economy. The proponents see it as of great economic benefit,? he said.
Employees from California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Regional State Water Quality Control Board, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bay Conservation and Development Commission outlined the roles their agencies will play in the final determination to allow the plant to operate if and when it is approved by Sonoma County?s supervisors.
Aimi Dutra, director of government and community affairs for the Dutra Group, presented her company?s case for building the plant at Haystack, outlining expected economic and environmental benefits and assuring that only the latest, best equipment will be used at the site.
Opponents of the project, including California State Coastal Conservancy, Friends of Shollenberger Park, Petaluma River Council, North Bay Rowing Club and Moms for Clean Air, presented their cases against approval with passion and, at times, vehemence.
While Haystack Landing is in a county-controlled area, it lies next to the Petaluma River and across from Petaluma?s Shollenberger Park, home of nesting birds, endangered species and a favorite recreation area for many locals.