Mushroom farm seeks extension on move

July 22, 2002


The owner of an embattled Petaluma Mushroom Farm will ask Tuesday
for a six-month extension to move its controversial composting operation.

The farm has identified a new site in Colusa County for the compost, after
two failed efforts to relocate the operation within Sonoma County. But a
company representative said it will take months of work before it can
replace the farm's current composting operation, and the company wants
to continue its Sonoma County composting site until it's ready.

"Colusa County is dying to have the mushroom farm come there," said
Eric Koenigshofer, the farm's attorney. "It's a certainty now. There's no
question about it."

The existing Petaluma Mushroom Farm will keep its mushroom growing
operations west of Petaluma on Thompson Road, where it produces
more than 5 million pounds of mushrooms a year.

But the outdoor composting operation, which neighbors have been
fighting for two decades because of the stench, will move to Colusa
where the company has signed a 30-year lease with an option for more,
Koenigshofer said.

The company is grading a pad for the new composting operation and
preparing to build a facility to double its mushroom growing operation.

But the company has missed a July 1 deadline granted in January by the
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

"We want the compost out of here. The farther away it goes, the better,"
said a neighbor.

The farm has already been granted three extensions, said the neighbor.
While he might be amenable to a one- or two-month extension, he
would object to six months.

"We feel enough is enough. The supervisors should enforce the deadline,"
he said.

The farm initially tried to move its operations to Middle Two Rock Road
and then to a rural ranch outside of Bloomfield. But residents were not
satisfied and together with county help, compelled the company to look

Koenigshofer, a former Sonoma County supervisor, said it is unfortunate
the county is losing the composting operation and the mushroom farm
expansion. He said it marks a county trend of losing agricultural lands and
jobs, making the county more and more an enclave of wealthy estates.

He said grading for the new facility has started in Colusa County, an area
of 1,155 square miles sparsely populated with 17,750 people.

The Mushroom Farm may even be eligible for incentives to help move its
operation to Colusa County, with up to half of employee salaries paid for
during the first six months and up to $125,000 in start-up money.

Colusa County Building Official Jim Little said he and county officials have
had a preliminary meeting about the mushroom farm project.

He said it would be located in the agricultural Colusa Industrial Park, less
than half a mile from the residential area outside the town of Colusa.

Little said he doesn't anticipate any permit problems, and the operation is
considered an acceptable use for the property. But a formal proposal
hasn't been submitted yet, and he said he doesn't know whether odor
questions will have to be addressed.

The compost would be trucked to Sonoma County, a trip of about two
hours, Koenigshofer said. The number of weekly compost deliveries to
the mushroom farm was unavailable, but neighbors said it probably
wouldn't outnumber the existing trucks that deliver the raw materials such
as straw and manure used to manufacture the compost.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on
the extension request at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday in its chambers at 575
Administration Drive.

You can reach Staff Writer Tobias Young at 762-9498 or

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