Mushroom Farm must move by July

Supervisors order company to relocate

By Lois Pearlman, Argus-Courier Staff

Last week Sonoma County supervisors unanimously agreed to give the
Petaluma Mushroom Farm until the beginning of July to move its composting
operation from its present Thompson Lane location.

Neighbors in the area, complaining about the intense smell generated by huge
piles of decomposing matter, had appealed a previous decision by the board
to allow the compost to remain at the site until Nov. 1.

Supervisors turned down the appeal but agreed that the six-acre mushroom
farm needed to seek a more rural location for its compost.

"I don't know how I can make this any clearer. I want to see the compost
operation off of Thompson Lane," said south county supervisor Mike Kerns.

The farm, owned by Dave Cerini, has been on semi-rural Thompson Lane
since 1973, and produces some 100,000 pounds of mushrooms a week.
Nobody objects to the mushroom growing, it's the compost produced for
the growing medium that has neighbors ready to scream.

The Nov. 1, 2001 deadline was the second one-year extension the county
has given to the farm. Under a resolution approved by the supervisors the
company has to move the compost in order to keep its use permit.

In an attempt to fulfill the requirements the company has purchased two
properties as a new site for the composting and an additional mushroom

But both of these proposed locations have met with opposition of their own.

The mushroom farm had to sell its property on Middle Two Rock Road
because neighbors objected to increased truck traffic on their narrow
byway. At the second location on Roblar Road the local residents have filed
a lawsuit demanding a full environmental impact report after supervisors
agreed to issue the farm a permit.

Mushroom farm owners, represented by Santa Rosa attorney and former
county supervisor Eric Koenigshofer, say they want to move the compost
but their hands are tied.

After the Jan. 15 board meeting Koenigshofer said that the July 1 deadline
does not give the mushroom farm time to build a new composting site on
Roblar Road. He believes they'll be back in the supervisors' chambers
asking for another extension.

But the Thompson Lane neighbors were happy with the decision.

"We figure we've had movement in the right direction. Now we're just
waiting for the showdown in July," said aThompson Lane resident.
"We just have to take a wait and see attitude and see if they (the
supervisors) keep their promise to us."

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