Anti-Big Box Group Files Appeal to Stop Deer Creek

Letter asks city to further review traffic impacts; preliminary step before lawsuit is filed

The Petaluma Neighborhood Association, a group critical of “big-box” developments, is appealing the city’s recently approved Deer Creek shopping center, arguing that the project’s Final Environmental Impact report does not adequately address traffic impacts and does not comply with the city’s General Plan.

In the letter, sent to the city this week, attorneys for the group ask that the environmental report be reevaluated and re-circulated before permits are issued and is a preliminary step before a lawsuit is filed.

The Friedman’s anchored shopping center is a 345,000 square foot development that will include numerous restaurants, stores, gym and a parking lot for about 1,000 cars.

Opponents, including Paul Francis who runs Petaluma Neighborhood Association, say it will result in visual blight and gridlock on the Eastside, especially because it relies on the Rainier crosstown connector, which does not yet exist.

“We support Friedman's 100 percent, and we want to see Petaluma grow in a responsible manner,” said Francis. “The real solution is to develop the site as mixed use, as it was initially intended, reduce automobile traffic with a walkable project that ties into the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Merlone Geier Partners, the project developer, responded by calling the letter “further evidence that Paul Francis intends on filing a frivolous lawsuit.”

“Over a four year period, the impacts of the Deer Creek Village shopping center have been thoroughly considered by the City, independent consultants and by neighbors who have attended dozens of community meetings,” wrote spokesman Marko Mlikotin.

“Unfortunately, the law allows just one individual to stop a project that enjoys overwhelming community support. What is now at risk are hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars that can help the City's financial problems, fix potholes, and keep neighborhoods and schools safe.”

What do you think of the appeal? Should the project be stopped through any means necessary? Or will it bring much needed revenue to the city?

Bradford A Morris September 01, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Patrick M I agree! Funny how you always see the same attorneys , people etc in the disputes. I wonder if they get a pay off to go away? Seems like a new legal way to form black mail. If anybody cares to notice the development of downtown where the old car dealerships used to be is great I only have a problem driving when the D street bridge goes up. The outlet mall is great no traffic problems. The auto mall way out of the way. The corn feilds cause the most traffic problem and it's on 101 Not our streets. Khols, Club one great no problem never a back up. So all you trouble makers your making people very angry that your doing this. I would support an investagation on you all to see how your timing with your bank statement match up $$$ as will what are your true motives as all the development in Petaluma have worked out. Petaluma is even getting new on ramps to the freeway 101 on the east side yea. Progress I support it 100%
Max September 01, 2012 at 10:03 PM
The developer's comment is preposterous, "jobs and millions of dollars that can help the City's financial problems, fix potholes, and keep neighborhoods and schools safe". Is he serious? Thousands of city workers all over the state laid off, cities all across the state broke or bankrupt, the state budget is a mess, Petaluma is scrapping the bottom financially. The reality is, these types of projects drive up costs for municipalities, and provide very little in return for the communities they occupy. This project represents what is fundamentally wrong with the Landuse policies in Petaluma. The Neighborhood organization should not need to do what should be the City Council's job, I commend Francis and the community group for their efforts.
Ptown September 02, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Max, quick question . What do you think about the same group dropping a similar lawsuit against a planned big box center, without anything major being changed? Paving the way for it's approval.
tony September 02, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I want to narrow my focus on this project to just make a small point: discussing the best possible design criteria is fine, and I agree with Walkability/bicycle friendly concepts in design, but if we're welcoming Freidman Bros., how does that mix with walkability. Personally, I'm not walking there to buy a carton of nails or a 40lb bag of soil or a patio furniture set. There's a place for walkability, but the home improvement store and the supermarket might not be it. Let's be realistic in our application of concepts.
Max September 02, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Good point tony. So the question is, are we building projects to the developer's needs? or are we planning a community for people? From what I see, this has been a long process to designate that site as 'mixed-use". There are other strip mall shopping centers and/or locations that could use a good tenant like Friedman's. Wouldn't it be better to retro fit an existing site, than to build more sprawl?


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