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Frequently asked questions

Q

Who is CARRQ?

Citizens Advocating Roblar Road Quality (CARRQ) is an all-volunteer group that began in the 1980's to oppose the development of a gravel quarry on ranch land on Roblar Road, Petaluma.  The site is located about five miles west of Cotati, between Stony Point Road and Valley Ford Road.

The original group was made up mostly of area residents, including ranchers, who were alarmed that a gravel mine with blasting could be developed on prime ranch land, close to people's homes, and immediately adjacent to an old landfill that is owned by the County and which closed in the mid-1970's. The landfill operated before environmental regulations were developed and it is unlined and uncapped.

CARRQ supporters helped defeat the development of a quarry on this site in 1986 and in 1988. In about 2004 CARRQ needed to became active again after John Barella, former owner of North Bay Construction one of the largest construction companies in the region, applied to the County to build a quarry on Roblar Road and sold 758 acres next to the proposed quarry site to the Sonoma Count Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (SCAPOSD) to preserve the land 'in perpetuity.'

After operating as a loosely organized grass roots group for many years, in 2009 CARRQ incorporated as a California public benefit organization so that we could raise public awareness to fight the quarry development more effectively. Many of the current Board of Directors have supported CARRQ since its beginning. CARRQ has more than 400 supporters throughout Sonoma County who have helped us raise public awareness about the the quarry, and who donate time and money to help us fight it and the misuse of publicly funded open space land.

Q

I don't live on Roblar Road, why should I care if a quarry is developed there?

  • Do you care about the health of people in this section of the south County? 
  • Do you care about how your Open Space tax dollars are used? 
  • Do you care if elected officials favor a developer they are friendly with over people who live and work in the community? 
  • Do you care if a part of our agricultural land will be ruined forever? 
  • Are you concerned about the take-over of the west/south county by resource extraction (gravel) companies if the Roblar Road quarry and Dutra asphalt plant in Petaluma are approved to operate ? 

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, then you care about a gravel mine in our agricultural land off Roblar Road. 

Working with an Aggregate Resource Management (ARM) plan developed more than twenty years ago, lame duck Supervisors Kerns and Kelley and outgoing Supervisor Brown approved the quarry project that will scar our agricultural landscape forever with little economic data to support their decision in favor of developer John Barella.  The supervisors allowed the Open Space District that is funded by your tax dollars to come up with a plan to 'reinterpret' a conservation easement that was supposed to be established 'in perpetuity' to favor John Barella so that he could save hundreds of thousands of dollars to mitigate against the endangered species (Calfiornia tiger salamanders and Californiag red-legged frogs) that he will kill with his quarry operation.

  • You should care about the Roblar Road quarry if you live, work or travel east of the quarry where contaminants from the quarry's operation will blow in the Petaluma Gap winds.
  • You should care about the development of the quarry if you travel by car or bike on Stony Point, Mecham, Pepper, Valley Ford or Roblar Roads or Highway 116 where you will share the road with  200-400 gravel trucks per day. 
  • You should care that the quarry was approved if you understand that its development will have minimal impact on the creation of jobs in our community. The quarry will generate only 8 to 10 jobs for workers in Sonoma County.  Is this enough benefit to ruin this piece of agricultural land and potentially ruin water sources in a sensitive biological area forever?
Q

Why continue to fight the quarry if the Supervisors voted to approve it?

CARRQ is continuing to oppose the quarry through the courts because we believe the County did not prove there is an economic need for this quarry that justifies the damage it's development and operation will do to the land, to our air, water and natural resources.  We do not think the County is protecting the interests and health of citizens by approving a project with more than 180 Conditions of Approval.  We believe taxpayers who approved the creation of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District and pay for it through sales taxes, did not intend for the District to favor a developer with such machinations as attempting to allow hundreds of gravel trucks per day cross protected land (this attempt was soundly rejected), or using a neighboring conservation easement to replace habitat of tiger salamanders that will be obliterated by the quarry. 

The Roblar Road quarry, Stony Point Quarry,  Mecham landfill and the closed county landfill are all within an approximate three-mile area surrounding the quarry site.  CARRQ believes the County Supervisors failed to protect the health and safety of residents, businesses, workers, people who travel in the area surrounding the quarries and landfills and the natural resources of this area by ignoring the risks presented in the Environmental Impact Report and ignoring the accumulated impact these facilities have on us.  They were worried enough about the quarry damaging the closed landfill next door to it to require the developer to indemnify them from liability; but not the rest of us!

These issues are too big to ignore---join us to continue the fight!

Q

What is a landfill liner and what's it for?

A landfill liner, or composite landfill liner, is intended to be a low permeable barrier, which is laid down under engineered landfill sites. Until it deteriorates, the liner retards migration of leachate, and its toxic constituents, into underlying aquifers or nearby rivers, causing spoiliation of the local water.

Modern landfills generally require a layer of compacted clay with a minimum required thickness and a maximum allowable hydraulic conductivity, overlaid by a high-density polyethylene geomembrane.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency‎‎ has stated that the barriers "will ultimately fail" while the site remains a threat for "thousands of years",  suggesting that modern landfill designs delay but do not prevent ground and surface water pollution.

Source: Wikipedia

The landfill next to the Roblar Rock quarry site is not lined.

Q

What is a landfill cap?

Landfill capping is a containment technology that forms a barrier between the contaminated media and the surface, thereby shielding humans and the environment from the harmful effects of its contents and perhaps limiting the migration of the contents. A cap must restrict surface water infiltration into the contaminated subsurface to reduce the potential for contaminants to leach from the site.

Landfills have been the most common form of waste disposal, and old landfills are present or in close proximity to most communities in the United States. Prior to environmental laws that regulated waste disposal, landfills were no more than holes in the ground filled with waste and covered with dirt. Many of the old landfills that are problems today were constructed in this fashion.

Source Landfill Caps and Enhancements

The landfill next to the Roblar Road quarry site has no cap.

Q

What does the term "mitigation" refer to?

Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), "mitigation" includes all of the following actions to eliminate or reduce the impact to natural resources (animals, plants, water) caused by development by:

  • Avoiding the impact altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action.
     
  • Minimizing impact by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation.
     
  • Rectifying the impact by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the impacted environment.
     
  • Reducing or eliminating the impact over time by preservation and maintenance operations during the life of the action.
     
  • Compensating for the impact by replacing or providing substitute resources or environments.

Source: California Coastal Commission

Q

What is the Williamson Act Program?

The California Land Conservation Act, better known as the Williamson Act, has been the state’s premier agricultural land protection program since its enactment in 1965. More than 16 million of the state’s 30 million acres of farm and ranch land are currently protected under the Williamson Act.

The California Legislature passed the Williamson Act in 1965 to preserve agricultural and open space lands by discouraging premature and unnecessary conversion to urban uses. The Act creates an arrangement whereby private landowners contract with counties and cities to voluntarily restrict their land to agricultural and compatible open-space uses. The vehicle for these agreements is a rolling term 10-year contract (i.e., unless either party files a "notice of nonrenewal," the contract is automatically renewed for an additional year.). In return, restricted parcels are assessed for property tax purposes at a rate consistent with their actual use, rather then potential market value.  Please see the Williamson Act Overview page for more historic information about the Program.

The land designated for the Roblar Road quarry is currently under a Williamson Act Contract that expires in 2015.  Quarry owner John Barella cannot develop the quarry until the Williamson Act expires.  Despite this, the Board of Supervisors rushed to certifiy the project's EIR and approved the project in Dec. 2010 knowing that no work on this project---nor any job creation for the construction industry--could begin for a full 5 years.

Q

What type of quarry is planned?

The planned quarry will be an open-pit mine.

Quarries are generally used for extracting building materials, such as dimension stone, construction aggregate, riprap, sand, and gravel. They are often co-located with concrete and asphalt plants due to the requirement for large amounts of aggregate in those materials. The Roblar Road quarry will be allowed to do up to 10% asphalt recycling. The County did no analysis of the impacts of asphalt recycling on the local area's natural resources or the health and safety of people who live, work and travel through the area.

Q

What Will the Hours of Operation be for the Quarry?

The quarry hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays and 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Extended evening hours (until10:00 p.m.) as needed are allowed with prior written authorization from the County.  Blasting will be permitted during day time hours from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  No clearing or mining operations are supposed to happen on Sundays or federal holidays.  The quarry owner has already requested an exception to be able to operate 24 hours per day, but we have not heard that this has been granted yet. All of this will go on for six days a week for 20 or more years!  CARRQ members will need to monitor whether the quarry operator obtains written approval from the County for any evening hour or 24-hour operations.

Q

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a permanent, recorded deed restriction that transfers certain property rights from the willing fee owner (landowner) to the easement holder (District). A conservation easement is permanently binding, so even if the land is sold or willed to a future generation, the easement stays in place. The specific requirements for each easement are negotiated between the willing landowner and the District and varies somewhat from project to project

What is the purpose of a conservation easement?

The purpose of the conservation easement may be to protect agricultural resources, significant natural features such as woodlands or creeks, scenic vistas or a combination of all these goals. The easement outlines which activities are permitted or prohibited on the property, and the responsibilities of both the landowner and the easement holder to ensure these goals are sustained.

How do you determine the value of a conservation easement?

We hire independent appraisers from an approved list to determine conservation easement values. These appraisers use the sale of similar properties and adjust for differences between those sales and the appraised property. They determine the fair market value of the property before the conservation easement is in place, and its potential value after the easement is in place. The difference between these two values is the conservation easement value, which we pay to the willing landowner. Each appraisal is reviewed and approved by staff to ensure that it meets national and District goals and standards.

How do you ensure compliance with conservation easements?

Our staff and volunteers review properties on site at least once a year with the landowner's concurrence to monitor compliance with easement provisions. This is a perpetual obligation on our part to protect the public interest and to guarantee the land is preserved forever. We have set aside funds for these stewardship purposes, and we vigorously address any violations of the agreed-to uses of the land.

Source: Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District

Q

What Can I Do to Help?

CARRQ is a "small but mighty" group of volunteers and we need your help.  You can:

  • Volunteer to help us get information out
  • Post a sign with our message and Web address on your property
  • Sign up for our email alerts and newsletters
  • Follow us on Facebook
  • Write letters to the supervisors and the Open Space District general manager
  • Attend meetings and hearings as they come up (we'll let you know when on our Website and email messages!)
  • Attend our events
  • Donate!