A Sonoma County judge has sided with key points in a lawsuit challenging approval of the controversial Roblar Road rock quarry, a move that could derail the project west of Cotati.
A split county Board of Supervisors approved the 70-acre project in late 2010 over the objections of a group of neighbors and others concerned about environmental impacts.
They sued the county and quarry developer John Barella, claiming safeguards needed to address those impacts were not sufficiently studied or spelled out in the county's environmental report.
Judge Elliot Daum agreed with several of those core claims in a four-page tentative ruling issued Wednesday, two days before oral arguments in the case.
He said studies of possible water contamination linked to a shuttered landfill adjacent to the quarry were inadequate.
He also faulted Barella's plans to replace wildlife habitat damaged by the project and an analysis of impacts from widening Roblar Road on nearby Americano Creek.
Quarry opponents welcomed the ruling, saying it favored the main points of their case.
“We feel those are all important issues and the judge agrees with that,” said Sue Buxton, president of Citizens Advocating for Roblar Rural Quality. The group's lawsuit asked for the project's approval to be set aside, a new environmental review conducted and any pending or current work halted.
Daum's final ruling likely will address those requests. His tentative order denied the group's other claims, including concerns about traffic, noise and air quality.
Barella, the former owner of North Bay Construction, said he did not want to comment before Friday's court hearing, set for 9 a.m.
Sally McGough, a deputy county counsel, called Daum's ruling “cryptic,” noting it offered little explanation for what he'd found objectionable in the county's environmental analysis.
“Yes, he's concerned about those issues. But what is it about those issues, I don't know,” McGough said. She acknowledged that if Daum's ruling were to hold it would be a win for opponents.