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Petaluma group drops opposition to Friedman's project

A Petaluma group agreed Friday to drop its opposition to the Friedman's-anchored Deer Creek Village shopping center in exchange for nearly $200,000 in concessions from the developer.

The six-figure settlement is the second the Petaluma Neighborhood Association has achieved in its opposition to large-scale developments in Sonoma County's second-largest city. The money is earmarked for street, bike, pedestrian and traffic improvements, three community groups and the PNA's legal costs.

In 2010, the loosely organized group forced a three-way settlement with the city and developers of the Target shopping center, which netted the two leaders of the group $100,000 and paid $50,000 toward their legal fees. It also required the developer, Regency Centers, to pay the city's legal fees related to the PNA suit and another one Regency had filed.

Merlone Geier Partners said the $191,000 settlement announced Friday will head off an expected lawsuit that would have further delayed the project and cost perhaps several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees.

During the planning process, a law firm hired by the PNA, headed by Petaluman Paul Francis, filed several letters of opposition in connection with various aspects of the Deer Creek proposal.

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