Mushroom farm drops plans for new facility

By Lois Pearlman, Argus-Courier Staff

Owners of the controversial Petaluma Mushroom Farm on Thompson Lane
have abandoned plans to build a second facility on Roblar Road and are
asking the county for an extension on its Thompson Lane permit.

Earlier this year, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors granted
Petaluma Mushroom Farm owner Dave Cerini six more months to construct
a new composting site on Roblar Road in Bloomfield.

The county had originally given him a one-year extension but neighbors
appealed the decision, saying they could no longer put up with the stench of
the compost piles.

This was the second extension granted by the county, which has ordered the
farm to move its compost operations to another location or lose its permit.
Mushrooms grow in compost and require a constant supply for on-going

Built in 1973 by a former owner, the farm pumps out 100,000 pounds of
button and portobello mushrooms each week.

Earlier this month, Eric Koenigshofer, Cerini's attorney, told the Sonoma
County Permit and Resource Management Department his client was
abandoning the Roblar Road plan and requesting a six-month extension. The
proposal has not yet been scheduled for consideration by supervisors.

Koenigshofer also asked the county to revoke the Roblar Road permit. The
revocation will probably come up for approval by supervisors July 23.

According to Koenigshofer, the farm still intends to discontinue its
composting operations on Thompson Lane. "An alternative source (of
compost) has been identified out of county," he said, and his client needs
approximately six months to complete the changeover.

Mushroom farm consultant Duncan Soldner confirmed that "another entity
will be making compost for the mushroom farm in another county." He said it
will be cheaper and easier than building a facility in Bloomfield.

Bloomfield residents who had filed a lawsuit against the Roblar Road permit
were elated that the plan has been abandoned.

"The community of Bloomfield is delighted to hear of Petaluma Mushroom
Farm's decision to abandon its plans to develop a new mushroom farm and
composting facility on Roblar Road," read a statement from Meg Shores of
the Bloomfield Rural Alliance. "The potential odor, noise and health impacts
on this rural neighborhood, and particularly on St. Anthony's rehabilitation
facility, made the enterprise totally inappropriate for this area."

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