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Petaluma Friedman's center opponents appeal approval to City Council

  • Artist's rendering of proposed Friedman's Home Improvement store in Petaluma

The organization that sought to stop the Target shopping center in Petaluma is asking the City Council to reject approvals for the Friedman's-anchored Deer Creek Village project.

Lawyers for the Petaluma Neighborhood Association, headed by anti-big box activist Paul Francis, filed a six-page appeal last week with the city seeking a reversal of the Planning Commission's Aug. 14 design approval.

In April, the City Council approved the major planning hurdle, the environmental impact report, over the group's legal objections. The 36.5-acre, 344,000-square-foot project returned to the planning board last month for approvals of architecture and signage.

The appeal asks the council to reverse those approvals and revise the EIR to reevaluate impacts on traffic, air quality and wetlands.

"Unless and until the city undertakes such revision, any approvals made on the basis of the . . . environmental analysis will be unlawful," the letter states.

A spokesman for developer Merlone Geier Partners interpreted the appeal as a thinly veiled threat of a lawsuit against the city in a last-ditch effort to obstruct the project.

It "is further evidence that he (Francis) intends on filing a frivolous lawsuit to prohibit Friedman's return to Petaluma," said Marko Mlikotin in a statement. "Unfortunately, the law allows just one individual to stop a project that enjoys overwhelming community support."

In the past four years in several community meetings, he said, city planners have thoroughly evaluated the project's impacts.

"We are confident that the City Council will reaffirm its past position that the Friedman's shopping center was adequately studied and the economic benefits of 800 jobs can't be ignored," his statement said.

Francis said the complaints aren't just about Deer Creek Village.

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