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Judge won't halt Santa Rosa asphalt plant's silo construction

  • Piara Singh waits to load his truck with hot asphalt at the BoDean Company, in Santa Rosa in 2012.

A judge on Wednesday refused to block construction of three new storage silos at a Santa Rosa asphalt plant.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elliot Daum denied a request by neighbors to halt construction of the 82-foot-high silos at the BoDean asphalt plant north of Railroad Square.

The judge ruled Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods failed to show that halting work on the silos was in the public interest. He noted that BoDean has the right to move forward with its project while the group's lawsuit is pending, albeit at the company's own risk.

The neighborhood group is suing BoDean and the City of Santa Rosa, whose City Council narrowly approved the project in April, in an effort to force more environmental study of the $2 million project.

Neighbors have raised a number of health and land-use concerns about the project, which they characterize as a significant expansion of the Maxwell Drive plant. They worry about increased noise, traffic and emissions, and argue the City Council should never have exempted the project from review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The company denies the three silos and related equipment would expand the plant's capacity. It says the upgrades would help it operate more efficiently and will lower greenhouse gas emissions.

BoDean general manager Bill Williams said the company has spent nearly $500,000 preparing the site for the new silos. It expects to have the new equipment up and running by July.

The neighborhood group had argued the project would “irreparably damage the environment” if allowed to be constructed. Allen Thomas, a vocal opponent of the project, said the group decided not to challenge the judge's ruling because its lawsuit is set for trial in August.

“We are confident we will prevail in August,” Thomas said.

But the judge doesn't sound convinced, finding in his ruling that the group “failed to demonstrate a likelihood of prevailing on the merits.”

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