Santa Rosa Press Democrat
NEW APPEAL ON MUSHROOM FARM
Published on November 7, 2001
© 2001- The Press Democrat
BYLINE: GUY KOVNER
A newly formed citizens group has appealed the Sonoma County Board of
Zoning Adjustments' decision to give Petaluma Mushroom Farm another
year to move its composting operation away from Thompson Lane.
The appeal, filed Monday by the Northwest Petaluma Rural Alliance, marks
the second time this year that mushroom farm opponents have appealed a
zoning board action to the county supervisors.
Eric Koenigshofer, the mushroom farm's attorney, said a lawsuit filed in
September by Bloomfield residents opposed to a new mushroom farm
near their homes is one reason the Thompson Lane residents will get no
relief this year.
``We've done virtually everything we can,'' Koenigshofer said, to relocate
the odor-causing composting operation to another site.
Residents of the Middle Two Rock Road area objected last year to the
mushroom farm's first choice of a new site, prompting farm owner Dave
Cerini to sell land in that area and buy the 89-acre parcel on Valley Ford
Road at Roblar Road, Koenigshofer noted.
Construction of the Roblar Road farm would have started by now, he said,
but for the suit filed by the Bloomfield Rural Alliance, alleging that the
supervisors approved the project without adequate environmental review.
Meanwhile, the county had given Cerini a Nov. 1 deadline to remove the
composting operation from the farm on Thompson Lane, where neighbors
have complained about the farm's odor, noise, water consumption and
truck traffic since 1983.
Last month, the zoning board voted 4-1 to extend the deadline to Nov. 1,
``We predicted it would take years'' to move the composting, said a
critic of the Thompson Lane farm.
The county's largest mushroom farm, producing about 100,000 pounds of
edible fungus a week, also has a history of violating zoning and water
pollution control codes.
At a county hearing in January, Duane Butler, a engineer hired by Cerini,
described the Thompson Lane farm -- in operation since 1973 -- as ``a
marginal project gone bad.''
A neighbor said Monday the odor from processing 500 tons
of wet compost a week still annoys residents, including newcomers who
were told the composting would be relocated.
Eight residents put up the $849 fee to appeal the deadline extension,
the neighbor said, and she is going door-to-door to get more donations to
spread the cost.
The neighbor said she wished the zoning board had pressed the mushroom farm
about possibly obtaining compost from another manufacturer.
``We're asking them to keep the promise to us that the composting would
cease Nov. 1,'' she said.
Koenigshofer said Supervisor Mike Kerns, who represents the Petaluma
area, told him that question will be asked when the supervisors hear the
``We understand the frustration of the people in the Thompson Lane area,''
The nearest mushroom compost producer is in Ventura
County, and the straw-based compost cannot be trucked that far, he said.
If another company in Sonoma County were to undertake mushroom
compost production, it would require new facilities and a county permit, just
as the Roblar Road mushroom farm did, Koenigshofer said.
In their lawsuit, Bloomfield residents said the county failed to adequately
address possible hazards of the new mushroom farm, including airborne
mold, odor and water pollution.
The supervisors approved a permit for the Roblar Road farm in May, with
Kerns saying Cerini had ``bent over backwards'' to address the Bloomfield
The county zoning board board had approved the new mushroom farm in
January, prompting the Bloomfield group to file the first appeal to the
No date has been set for the supervisors to hear the appeal by the
Northwest Petaluma Rural Alliance, county planner Traci Tesconi said
The alliance has scheduled a public meeting to discuss the mushroom farm
at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Rancho Adobe Fire Station, Old Redwood
Highway and Main St., Penngrove.
You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 762-7297 or e-mail