Petaluma Creamery owner Larry Peter signed an agreement with the city of Petaluma on Thursday which allows Peter’s historic business to remain in operation while it pays the remaining $552,248 it owes the city for unpaid permit violation fines and improves its wastewater management system.
The deal comes eleven days after a representative of the Creamery arrived at Petaluma City Hall with a cashiers check for $844,328.17 on Monday, March 1, the city-imposed deadline for Peter’s business to pay off unpaid bills and fines it had racked up since 2004.
All told, city officials say that Creamery has made three payments totaling $1.3 million since March 1, a significant portion of the total over $1.8 million the city said the Creamery owed. All that remains now is a $552,248 bill for unpaid permit violation fines.
For Peter, the deal, known as a consent order, came in the nick of time. In a March 2 letter, Petaluma city manager Peggy Flynn informed Peter that the city had revoked the Creamery’s wastewater discharge permit due to unpaid bills and other unresolved issues. The city gave the Creamery until Saturday, March 13, to wind down its use of wastewater.
Under the deal signed by Flynn on Friday, the city agrees to reinstate the Creamery’s wastewater discharge permit until Dec. 1. In exchange, the Creamery will pay $20,000 of the remaining bill per month, meaning that the bill will be paid in approximately 27 months if the Creamery sticks with the payment schedule.
Larry Peter, the owner of the Creamery, did not return a request for comment on Friday afternoon.
In addition to paying the remaining fines, the Creamery must pay for a company selected by the city to monitor the Creamery’s wastewater for a 30-day period; submit plans for a new wastewater management and monitoring system to the city within 90 days; provide proof to the city of its ability to pay for the new system; and complete the construction on the new system by Dec. 1.
If the business does not pay the fines or meet the other requirements laid out in the consent order, the city will revoke the Creamery’s wastewater permit and require it to apply for a new permit, a process which could leave the Creamery unable to discharge water for three months while the city processes the permit application.
City officials say that the Creamery passed a Feb. 23 water test after failing two tests earlier in February, according to the Petaluma Argus-Courier. The city credits the Creamery’s success to a flurry of work completed at the facility over the past several months.
While it is true that the Creamery has shown good will in recent weeks, it is also true that the Creamery has not lived up to its past promises, a track record which lead the business to rack up $1.8 million in unpaid bills and leave a variety of safety and environmental concerns to go unaddressed for years.