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Petaluma Planning Commission responds favorably to riverfront project’s EIR

By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The draft environmental analysis for a large mixed-use proposal along the Petaluma River received largely positive reviews Tuesday night before Petaluma’s Planning Commission.

Riverfront is a 39-acre plan with a 120-room hotel, commercial and office space, 4 acres of parks and trails and 273 housing units including townhouses, live-work units and apartments. It would also dedicate a parcel to the city for a community boathouse.

The draft environmental impact report didn’t identify any significant impacts that can’t be mitigated, environmental planner Olivia Ervin said. Greenhouse gas emissions, traffic, effects on plants and animals, wetlands, erosion, noise and traffic impacts can all be managed to less-than-significant levels.

Planning commissioners accepted the adequacy of most of that analysis, but wanted further scrutiny on noise and water issues. There were also some concerns about traffic readings and the possible impact of a rising sea level.

Commissioner Jennifer Pierre said analysis of highway and train noise was “sloppy” and “missed the mark.”

The development, proposed by Basin Street Properties, is set to include 30,000 square feet of retail space and 60,000 square feet of offices, 134 single-family residential lots, 39 townhouses with four live/work units, and 100 apartments.

A hotel would be set toward the northwestern entrance of the property, while residential lots would be on the south side along the river.

The project site is west of Highway 101, between Lakeville Boulevard and the Petaluma River, east of the Pomeroy property and the city animal shelter.

The site’s frontage along the Petaluma River has been dedicated to the State Lands Commission and for a riverfront park. The boathouse and be accessible to the public.

Also included is a sports field and an oval “central green” park circled by the commercial spaces and apartments.

The draft EIR looked at alternatives that included a smaller project without the sports field. Commissioners Kathy Miller and Diana Gomez both said they could only support a project that includes the ballfield.

A fiscal impact report prepared last year for the project estimates it would add about 520 full-time-equivalent permanent jobs. Construction would support about 1,950 temporary full-time jobs.

Of four speakers who raised concerns about the draft EIR, three represented large trade unions, which would like to lock down many of those jobs for local union workers. They urged further study on potential hazardous waste on the former river-dredge dumpsite, traffic and flood issues.

The public comment period on the document remains open through Feb. 6, after which a final report will be produced with responses to concerns raised by the public, the commission and City Council members. The council is expected to examine the report Feb. 3.

The report can be found online at cityofpetaluma.net/cdd/riverfront.html

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.





2 Responses to “Petaluma Planning Commission responds favorably to riverfront project’s EIR”

  1. James Bennett says:

    Our Sonoma County ‘public servants’ have concrete resolve to build Smart Growth at a feverish pace.

    These are huge projects.

    Instead of the free market picking winners and losers.

    Government will pick winners and losers.

    Again.

    This is what fascism looks like.

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  2. Elephant says:

    Another rubber stamp for Basin Street. They got away with around $6 million (yes that is correct, although no one knows the exact amount) in unapproved and unaccountable cost over-runs on the Theater Square mess. I wonder how much they’ll steal from the city on this one? So can anyone tell me one single reason why this project is needed, other than for Basin Street and the construction industry to make money?

    The hotel industry still hasn’t recovered. Existing local hotels are operating at far below optimum occupation. There is a significant amount of vacant retail space in Petaluma with the Friedman’s shopping Center still under construction. The last that I read, there is about a 20% vacancy rate in existing office buildings there. And we don’t have enough drinking water to supply what we already have built in Sonoma County as a whole.

    This project is one more nail in Petaluma’s coffin.

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