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Tuolumne Planning Board To Consider Biomass Processing Project

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Sonora, CA – The Tuolumne County Planning Commission’s next meeting agenda includes a public hearing over a proposed green-waste facility.

According to the project proposal, Roger Alderman is seeking a mitigated negative declaration and a conditional use permit allowing for a facility that would accept, store and process green-waste and inert materials into useful forms for sale.

The proposed operation is located at 17180 Alderman Road, specifically at the road’s end between Longeway Road and Highway 108 in Mono Vista. Already onsite a 50-year-old logging operation and other activities have included other types of wood processing and trucking.

The green-waste addition would situate on a five-plus acre portion of a nearly 16-acre site already zoned for Business Park and M-1 Light Industrial under the county ordinance code.

“We are always looking to expand the opportunity to pull biomass out of the forest and dispose of it in the proper way and this is a project that supports that effort,” comments Tuolumne County Assistant Planning Director Quincy Yaley.

Asked about potential project challenges, she shares. “We have really looked into that and they are mostly around noise issues. We have dealt with that by requiring mitigation as well as limiting days of operation of the project.”

Potential Noise Issues Among Neighbors’ Concerns

Yaley says the project was initially submitted to the county planning division several years ago and several revisions have occurred since, taking comments from adjoining property owners into consideration. However, next week is the first time it will be going to the Planning Commission for a public hearing.

“Staff has been working with the owners, negotiating back and forth on mitigation measures and conditions of approval that really meet the needs of the project as well as to address the concerns of the community,” Yaley explains. “Just with staffing levels and budget cuts it has taken a long time for this project to get through the system.”

She continues, “That is why we are bringing it forward now because we are anticipating some changes in our planning division and we want to make sure that projects that were near — or are ready to go — get to the Planning Commission quickly.”

Asked about community interest levels, she replies, “We always prepare for a robust public discussion at the Planning Commission meetings and I anticipate that just because of the high number of adjoining property owners, we will have interest in the project and that there will be a good discussion at the planning commission next week.”

Yaley adds, “I think one of the keys for this project is the limited number of days that the actual deconstruction…grinding of the material will occur. This is not proposed to be a seven-day-a-week, eight-hour-a-day operation. It has a very limited number of hours for the grinding…only three days a month.”

Next Wednesday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the county government center’s Board of Supervisors Chambers (2 South Green St.) in Sonora.