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WatchSonoma Watch
Wal-Mart may revive Rohnert Park expansion

Wal-Mart may revive a controversial plan to expand its Rohnert Park store with a 32,000-square-foot grocery — a proposal approved by the city two years ago but then stopped in court. ‘We’re evaluating the next steps and working with the city on the requirements established by the judge’s ruling,’ said Wal-Mart West media director Delia Garcia. She was referring to a 2011 decision in which Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau said parts of the environmental report for the project were inadequate.

State OKs deal to buy land for new Sonoma County courthouse

State officials approved a $5.2 million deal Wednesday to buy land in Santa Rosa for a new $178.7 million Sonoma County courthouse. The state Public Works Board approved the agreement to purchase 6.8 acres of bargain-priced land from the county at its main campus north of Steele Lane. It includes the site of the former county jail, which was demolished in 2010.

Going to court? Smile for the camera

Cameras at the courthouse are not new. But with the rise of multi-defendant gang cases drawing dozens of onlookers — and with the strain of staff reductions — cameras are seeing more action in Sonoma County courtrooms. Some see the devices as an invasion of privacy rights and an incursion on civil liberties. What’s your take?

Dutra asphalt plant controversy in hands of judge

Lawyers argued Friday before a packed courtroom about a controversial asphalt plant proposed for the Petaluma River that was approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors despite community opposition over potential environmental effects.

Judge to decide fate of Dutra asphalt plant

Opponents and supporters of the proposed Dutra Materials asphalt plant south of Petaluma are set to have their date in court Friday. A lawsuit challenging approval of the project, one of the most controversial land-use issues in Sonoma County, will be the focus of a civil court hearing. What should the judge do?

Prison sentencing shift starts in Sonoma County

A 20-year-old Windsor man behind a rash of commercial burglaries was the first to be sentenced in Sonoma County under a new state law that requires certain offenders to serve their time in local jails rather than state prison. The law, designed to reduce prison overcrowding, may be the biggest change to the county’s criminal justice system in a generation. Some are concerned that local officials are not equipped to handle hundreds of additional offenders entering the county jail and probation system each year.

State money grab could delay new courthouse

Gov. Jerry Brown’s raid on courthouse construction funds to balance the state budget means Sonoma County will likely wait another year before its aging facility is replaced. The county is now looking at 2016 until it gets a new courthouse — and construction could be put off even longer.

Judge: Wal-Mart expansion in Rohnert Park needs more study

Wal-Mart’s expansion of its Rohnert Park store hit a bump Thursday when a Sonoma County judge ruled more work is needed on noise and parking issues.

Courthouse project gets favorable review

The state has released a draft environmental review of the proposed new Sonoma County criminal courthouse — a $179 million, six-story building that would be next to the old jail in the county administration complex in Santa Rosa.

Juvenile court interpreters challenge restrictions

A shift in the way interpreters are deployed in Sonoma County’s juvenile court has touched off a dispute between the unionized translators and cost-cutting administrators over how best to serve the growing number of people who don’t speak English.

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