A Santa Rosa asphalt plant's controversial plan to add three new 82-foot high silos was rejected Thursday night by the city's Design Review Board.
On a 3-3 vote, the board denied the Bodean Company's request for an exemption from the city's typical height limit of 55 feet.
The company will appeal the decision to the City Council, general manager Bill Williams said.
In June, the council rejected an appeal by neighbors seeking to block the project over fears it would increase production levels, something that the plant strongly denied.
Bodean claims the $1.5 million project won't increase the production capacity, but would help it operate more efficiently and sharply lower energy use, dust and odors.
Board members who voted in favor of the project said the energy savings and improved air quality predicted by the project outweighed the visual impact of towers that would be 27 feet higher than normally allowed.
"It's not a library we're looking at today, it's an industrial use," board member Warren Hedgpeth said.
Opponents called the new towers inappropriate for the neighborhood and not in keeping with the city's zoning policy that envisions the area one day transitioning from its current industrial zoning to a more residential use.
Board member Kris Sunderlage stressed that the city would soon have a Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit station serving rail passengers not far from the Maxwell Drive site.
"This is how people coming to our town will see us," Sunderlage said.