Hugh Reimers and Krasilsa Pacific Farms, LLC Settle Environmental Complaint for $925,000
SANTA ROSA, CA | July 29, 2022
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today that her office has reached a settlement agreement with Hugh Reimers and Krasilsa Pacific Farms, LLC to settle a legal action arising out of unpermitted work on property located in Cloverdale which caused significant environmental damage. The unpermitted work included the cutting down of a large number of trees which were pushed into streams on the property, the deep ripping and grading of portions of the property without obtaining the necessary permits under the County’s Vineyard & Orchard Site Development Ordinance (“VESCO”), and the grading of roads and installation of culverts without permits. Under the terms of the stipulated judgment, approved by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Jennifer Dollard (Sonoma Superior Court Case No. SCV 268798), the defendants will immediately pay civil penalties and investigative costs of four hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars ($425,000). The judgment also requires a credit of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) to provide for replanting of one thousand trees on site, and provides the County with an easement to install a fire camera on the property to help response to future wildfires. Finally, an additional four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000) in penalties will be suspended to ensure compliance with the clean-up and abatement order issued by the Regional Water Control Board. If the parties fail to timely perform these requirements, the additional penalties will then become due.
The judgment also includes injunctive relief requiring remediation of the property under guidance from the Department of Fish & Wildlife, and compliance with the continued orders of the Regional Water Quality Control Board. If the property is developed in the future as a vineyard, the owners are required to comply with all Sonoma County ordinances including the Vineyard & Orchard Site Development Ordinance (“VESCO.”)
District Attorney Ravitch stated “This judgment is a message to property owners that if you intend to develop land in Sonoma County you will not be allowed to circumvent the necessary county or state permits. These permits are intended to prevent damage to the natural resources within our county, and it remains a priority of my office to prevent the degradation of said resources.”
The Regional Water Quality Control Board is continuing with its administrative action to enforce water code violations, an area of the law over which the District Attorney does not have jurisdiction. The District Attorney’s Office and the Regional Water Quality Control Board worked collaboratively on the enforcement of the action, aided by the assistance the Agriculture Commissioner’s Office, the Department of Fish & Wildlife, and Permit Sonoma. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Caroline Fowler.
Office of the District Attorney