The tribal government, which agreed last spring to postpone its pursuit of a casino in south Petaluma, has found a different use for part of their land: cannabis.
The Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians has filed with Sonoma County to grow nearly 1,000 cannabis plants outdoors along the southernmost section of Petaluma Boulevard South at the southeast corner of Highway 101 and Kastania Road.
The proposed operation, which would include large water storage tanks and involve dozens of employee trips per day, would be isolated on a 29-acre portion of the tribe’s 277-acre area between Highway 101 and the Petaluma River.
The project has yet to be approved by county planners, but has drawn positive comments from area leaders who have long tried to limit casino activity in Sonoma County. Petaluma City Council member Mike Healy said he had a few questions about the well the tribe plans to use as a water source, but otherwise had few complaints.
“However, this would allow the tribe to derive economic returns from their casino-less property,” said Healy, the council’s senior incumbent.
Telephone messages left at the tribal headquarters that included a contact on the tribe’s application were not returned.
The tribe’s motion, filed in early August, came three months after leaders agreed to renew an agreement with the county that ensures that no casino will be built on the property before December 31, 2032, including its River Rock Casino in Geyserville for 2.5 months at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, waived its annual payments of $ 750,000 to the county last year and this year.
The tribe has the right to build a second casino in the county under a separate agreement with the state of California, and the possibility that they would choose Petaluma has grown ever larger since the Graton Resort & Casino opened in 2013 and cut off the bay Traffic in the area might otherwise have continued north to the tribe’s River Rock Casino.
In September, the Koi Nation announced its intention to build a $ 600 million casino in Windsor, a move that is likely to further reduce gaming revenue at the tribe’s Geyserville facility.
The Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians’ intention to turn nearly 300 acres on the south side of Petaluma into a resort and casino has long been controversial in Petaluma. The city was so motivated to resist developments that it asked the 2006 voters the question. About 80% rejected the idea.
It’s not yet clear how much backlash an on-site cannabis operation will experience, although Sonoma County’s supervisor David Rabbitt said this could be a rare property devoid of the neighborhood concerns raised for the cannabis -Conflict in the rural outskirts of Petaluma are typical.
Plans for the site include landscaping and fences, no chemical storage, and a 30-foot setback from property lines and from Petaluma Boulevard South.
“This setback is far enough from the fence that nothing can be seen of Petaluma Boulevard South,” says the application, which asks for permission to grow 860 plants on the property.
With plans for pine and other plants to mask the smell and downward-facing, motion-sensitive lights for security cameras, the tribe may have found a belated solution to what to do with the property south of Petaluma marked by a billboard for the tribe’s other Sonoma County Casino.
“We have worked with the tribe and we understand and support their need to diversify their portfolio,” said Rabbitt, who represents the southern district, including Petaluma.
Rabbitt said a number of options for the country have been discussed over the years, including a leisure center, restaurants and bars, a campsite, a hotel and even a gas station.
“All of them were proposed at some point,” Rabbitt said. “Ideally, we want everything to go according to our overall plan.”
Tyler Silvy is the editor of the Petaluma Argus Courier. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 707-776-8458 or @tylersilvy on Twitter.