A coalition that includes the City of Petaluma, five environmental and community groups and several individuals has filed a lawsuit contesting the County of Sonoma's controversial approval last month of the Dutra Materials asphalt plant south of Petaluma.
In a 60-page legal complaint filed late Friday, the coalition alleges the county failed to adequately study and address the impacts on public health, air and water quality, and nearby public parkland.
Because the Dutra proposal underwent several revisions, including a series of changes in design and scale of operations last year, the county also should have launched a new environmental review of the project instead of relying on its existing one, the litigants claimed.
"It's the same story it's always been," said David Keller, one of the individuals who brought the suit, and a leader of the Petaluma River Council, which was also is part of the challenge. "Wrong plant. Wrong location. And that continued to be true even with the changes."
The lawsuit was the third expected after a trio of controversial industrial projects were approved by the Board of Supervisors in December. A lawsuit challenging the Roblar Road rock quarry west of Cotati was filed Thursday and a legal challenge to the Syar Industries Geyserville-area gravel mine on the Russian River came last week.
Groups joining as plaintiffs in the lawsuit on the Dutra asphalt plant also included the Friends of Shollenberger Park, Moms for Clean Air, the Madrone Audubon Society and Petaluma Tomorrow.
Aimi Dutra, a spokeswoman for her family's San Rafael-based company, could not be reached for comment late Friday.
In an written statement Saturday morning, Aimi Dutra said the asphalt plant had gone through a "very thorough public review process."
"Dutra (Materials) remains equally confident that the environmental document adequately addresses findings with regard to impacts," Dutra said.
In addition to the County of Sonoma and Dutra Materials, defendants in the lawsuit are Shamrock Materials, a neighboring business included in the project's barge off-loading operation, Corto Meno Sand and Gravel and Peach Tree Terrace, which the lawsuit described as a California-based general partnership.
The Dutra plant has been in the works for five years for 37 acres on the Petaluma River across from Shollenberger Park. It was given final approval Dec. 14 on a 3-2 vote of the Board of Supervisors.
The board had rejected a previous version of the project in the past, citing concerns about environmental and health risks. Revisions sought to address those concerns by limiting the plant's size and noise levels, the scale of its operations and by changing the way aggregate arrived at the plant by river barge.
But opponents said the annual production of 570,425 tons of asphalt and rock material, 145,000 annual truck trips and impacts on a nearby county scenic corridor and Shollenberger Park were all insufficiently addressed by the county and Dutra.
"Our county's elected officials have failed to use the laws in place to protect the electorate and the environment," Joan Cooper, spokeswoman for Friends of Shollenberger Park said in a news release.
In addition to a new environmental review, the lawsuit asks for the project approval to be set aside and any pending or current work halted.
Opponents also filed a separate legal letter Friday with the Board of Supervisors requesting the board correct what they contend were violations of state open meeting and environmental laws in its approval of the Dutra plant.