By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Petaluma City Council members voted Monday to send a strongly worded letter to Sonoma County supervisors, opposing the Dutra asphalt plant tentatively approved just outside Petaluma city limits.
The tone of the letter, written by Councilman Mike Healy, was softened a bit by other council members, including one who felt it “sounded kind of nasty.”
The Board of Supervisors approved the plant 3-2 in October in an informal vote, and is set to take a formal vote on the project Dec. 14.
The Petaluma council has sent other letters expressing its unanimous opposition to the plant, but “I think it is valuable to reiterate our position,” Healy said.
This letter touches on “broader themes” than others sent to the county during its deliberation process.
It notes that the nearby Shollenberger Park is “cherished and heavily used” by area residents and calls the plant the “wrong message” to visitors for the southern gateway to Petaluma.
But it also criticizes the county for making decisions without taking into account the viewpoints of Petaluma leaders and residents.
“Here, in Petaluma, this site for an asphalt plant is an enormously important issue for this city, and yet the Board of Supervisors is still poised to give its final approval,” the letter states. “The common theme here is one jurisdiction taking actions it is entitled to take while ignoring the strong wishes of another local jurisdiction and its citizens.”
Three other council members, including Mayor Pam Torliatt, David Glass and Teresa Barrett had concerns with the letter’s strongest language.
In its last few sentences, Healy’s original letter implied a threat of reciprocating the perceived lack of county cooperation: “We remind you that there will be times, as there have been in the past, when the shoe may be on the other foot.”
Barrett said that language sounded too negative.
“You want to bring them toward you, not slap them around,” she said.
Instead, the council agreed on tempered language: “There may come a time that the county will need jurisdictions such as ours to subsume narrow local interests toward broader regional goals. We suggest that as the county wants regional cooperation, this asphalt plant application is a good place to start.”
Supervisors Mike Kerns, Efren Carrillo and Paul Kelley voted to approve the plant at the southern end of Petaluma along the Petaluma River. Shirlee Zane and Valerie Brown opposed it.
Incoming Supervisor David Rabbitt, who will replace the retiring Kerns, said there are lessons to be learned about communication and interplay between jurisdictions.
“Having someone with a city background moving to the county seat … you’ll see more of that sensitivity,” he said.