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Hot Asphalt Plant A Heated Topic For Calaveras Supes

San Andreas, CA — A proposed asphalt plant that is stirring legal paperwork will likely be the Calaveras supervisors’ hottest meeting topic next week.

At next Tuesday’s Calaveras County Board of Supervisors session, the board will hear a recommendation by the Planning Department that it deny an appeal by MyValleySprings.com and resolve to uphold earlier planning commissioners’ determinations that a proposed asphalt plant at the site of the Hogan Quarry is a permitted use and that no mining use permit is required for owners to install the plant on site.

Additionally, the county planners are recommending that the supervisors adopt a resolution denying another appeal of a planning board decision related to the project filed by its operators, Ford Construction and CB Asphalt, which seeks to make the case that that plant construction does not require a conditional use permit that would trigger a CEQA review. According to the county planners, while the project would not negatively impact future use of the site for industrial purposes, incidental take permits, should one be required, fall under the jurisdiction and review of federal and state fish and wildlife agencies.

Legal counsel for the group MyValleySprings.com have taken the position that, as the plant would involve petrochemical processing of a known “hazardous” material, it would require such a permit. While mining operations at the quarry have gone on since 1965, before permits were required, counsel argues that adding the plant would require a new mining use permit, require an amendment to the operation’s current reclamation plan, further triggering a CEQA review and a full environmental impact report.

Another snarl relating to the proposed plant is that the county health officer made the determination that a conditional use permit is required for the plant on the grounds that “there may be a significant effect on the environment associated with the substances used in the manufacturing of asphalt.” the planning commission is scheduled to hear that appeal on August 13.

The Building Department will recommend that the board authorize publication of a summary notice of its proposed residential solar ordinance for the county. The state now requires every jurisdiction to  adopt one that prevents “unreasonable barriers,” such as overly restrictive regulations and expensive permitting processes, from limiting homeowners, agricultural and business concerns seeking to install solar energy systems. The county must have such an ordinance in place by the end of September that creates an expedited, streamlined permitting process for small residential rooftop solar energy systems.

Proposed Medical Center Support

On the consent agenda, the supervisors expect to approve sending a supportive letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on behalf of the Mark Twain Health Care District, which is seeking a USDA loan for the construction of its proposed Valley Springs Medical Center.

The district plans to use its own funds to purchase approximately 14 acres at
the corner of Highway 26 and Vista Del Lago Drive for a two-story, 18,500-square foot clinic to replace the existing 5,000 square-foot Valley Springs Medical Center.

According to the proposed plan, the new clinic would occupy three-and-a-half acres of the property while the remaining balance slated for future development. Under development to meet the expanding needs of the region, the center will focus on primary care and additionally offer radiology, diagnostics, telemedicine, behavioral health, and a women’s health section.

The supervisors also expect to rubber stamp about $1.2 million in purchase orders submitted by Public Works for budgeted goods and services over the next fiscal year that exceed the department’s own purchase authority. It is seeking blanket “not to exceed” approvals ranging from $65,000 to $500,000 for the following vendors: George Reed; Hunt and Sons; Holt of California;  Calaveras Auto Supply; and Valley Pacific Petroleum.

In another consent item, the board will give a collective nod to already vetted guidelines that will enable various departments’ use of social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to establish a county presence and in some cases, facilitate management of some programs and grants that require social media interface.

The meeting, which opens to the public at 9 a.m. in the board chambers (891 Mountain Ranch Road) will begin with a closed session at 8 a.m. to discuss legal matters, including ongoing litigation over zoning compliance between the county and the Valley Springs-based Calaveras Medical Collective medical marijuana dispensary.