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'Stop work' order issued for Amazon's Sonoma project

Permit Sonoma issued a stop work order last week for unpermitted renovations underway at the Victory Station warehouse building on Eighth Street East slated to serve as an Amazon e-commerce distribution center.

According to Permit Sonoma Director Tennis Wick, a stop work order was issued to the workers on site and a fine will be levied for construction without a permit.

Neighbors noticed a large crane at work at the large Victory Station warehouse sometime last week and alerted county officials.

“We received a complaint about work being conducted at the subject property,” said Wick in an email to a neighbor, which was provided to the Index-Tribune. “The responding inspector observed work being conducted that required a permit. After verifying that no permit for the work existed, the inspector issued a stop work order and posted a (stop work) notice” on site.

Schellville neighborhood watchdogs Norman Gilroy, of Mobilize Sonoma, and Kathy Pons, of the Valley of the Moon Alliance, voiced concerns in a May 2 letter to Wick and demanded county review of Amazon’s Sonoma warehouse agreement. The letter sought assurances that Amazon would not “exceed the scale of uses on which the (project’s) original permit approvals were predicated.”

In the email provided to the Index-Tribune on June 9, Wick noted that the warehouse “was not approved for one use but an array of industrial uses” and he stressed that Permit Sonoma authorizes land uses and that property owners choose tenants.

“My job is to ensure that tenancies comply with project conditions of approval,” he wrote to the neighbor. “Please know that I will hold Amazon to the law.”

Amazon plans to use the 250,000- square-foot Schellville warehouse as a “last mile distribution” site for Amazon packages before they are delivered to customers.

Based on traffic patterns at similar Amazon hubs, it is anticipated that large trucks will drop off packages overnight, which will then be sorted and loaded into smaller delivery vans. Throughout the day and evening, waves of vans will leave the facility to deliver products to homes.

And with regard to that potential traffic impact, Wick said “that the (building) project conditions were based on a county peer-reviewed traffic study, including the impact of turning from the site onto (Highway) 121 and Eighth St. E.”

He noted that the builder has and will pay assessments related to potential traffic issues.

“Impact fees amounting to approximately $250,000 have been collected for the Highway 121/Eighth St. E. junction and for the Big Bend roundabout,” he said, adding that “site frontage improvements on 121 costing $400,000 have also been collected.”

As of press time, it was still unknown if Permit Sonoma will recommend that the project undergo further county review. The amount of the fees issued related to the stop work order were not disclosed.

A request for comment emailed to an Amazon spokesperson was not returned by press time.

The e-commerce distribution center is expected to open in the fall, in time for the holiday season.

Email Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

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