From Diane Hichwa, Conservation Committee Chair


A large commercial development proposed for agriculturally zoned property
located on Hwy 116 just south of Forestville threatens a unique sensitive
wetland and rare plant habitat known as lower Pitkin Marsh.

Time is short: a PUBLIC HEARING to issue a Use Permit and to approve the project WITHOUT an Environmental Impact Report is scheduled for Thursday November 9 at 2:30 pm at the Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD) located at 2550 Ventura Ave. in Santa Rosa. Anyone with concerns about this project should attend the public hearing and voice their disapproval.

In addition, you can write a letter to:

Ms. Traci Tesconi
Permit and Resource Management Department
2550 Ventura Ave.
Santa Rosa CA 95403

Refer to: Project #UPE 05-0034 True North Health

Based on the evidence in the record and the sensitivity of the site, AT
MINIMUM a full Environmental Impact Report is essential.

Project summary:_

Development is proposed for a 27-acre agricultural parcel just south of
Forestville on the east side of Hwy 116 North. Access would be directly
on/off the highway at the bottom of "the Dip" where Pitkin Marsh Creek
crosses under and flows to Atascadero Creek. The parcel is currently used
for grazing. A large percentage of the property is within the boundary of
lower Pitkin Marsh, a protected wetland, biotic resource and scenic view.
The Marsh contains at least 2 rare and severely endangered plants, the
Pitkin Marsh Lily and White Sedge.

The applicant, "True North Health", proposes approximately 30,000 sq. ft. of structures including a 29-bed live-in facility, 50 lighted parking spaces and private offices. There would also be a "commercial kitchen", a barn, greenhouse and a private residence with a garage and granny unit.

The applicant for the project has indicated he will set aside 11 acres of the marsh in a conservation easement, however, we are concerned that there is no buffer between the wetland and development footprint. A large, mound septic system would be situated on higher ground directly above the marsh and the project is expected to use at least 3,600 gallons of water per day from a deep well not yet constructed at the site. The on-site access road to parts of the development is 1680 feet long (nearly 5 football fields) and has two bridges over the wetland.

Several regulatory agencies have expressed concern. U.S.Fish and Wildlife
has stated: "Despite the great effort that has been expended to design the
project to avoid direct impacts...we believe the project poses significant
potential indirect effects and, with little known about how to manage...this
unique type of habitat, the project as proposed could ultimately lead to the
eventual demise of rare plant species on the site."

We feel that once a large commercial development is on this site, there is
alteration to the ecology and negative impacts. Based on the evidence in the
record and the sensitivity of the site, AT MINIMUM a full Environmental
Impact Report is essential.

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