Grass Valley residents appeal North Star Mine water treatment project
Several area residents have appealed permitting for the North Star Mine water treatment project, setting the stage for the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to examine the issue next month.
The residents’ formal appeal of a use permit, management plan and mitigated negative declaration granted to the project claims Newmont Mining Co. failed to search for alternate treatment options. Property owners demand the mining company find a more suitable site on some 740 acres of land.
Residents want the Board of Supervisors to halt the project and insist Newmont implement a compensation formula for property owners affected by it. Additionally, they want an environmental impact report completed on the project’s potential effects.
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled this Tuesday to determine if the appeal was filed on time and if the residents have standing – a stake in the decision – for pressing their claims.
If those standards are met, the board will set the appeal hearing for its Nov. 10 meeting, county officials said.
“This is how we feel – why this location?” asked Leroy Bakelmun, who signed the appeal papers. “We don’t think they adequately analyzed that area. This is really a David-and-Goliath situation.”
The proposed water treatment project stems from mine water tainted with naturally occurring metals. Newmont is mandated to reduce the levels of metals like arsenic and manganese.
Newmont officials proposed a passive treatment system that would run along Allison Ranch Road. No chemicals would be used, though two large ponds would be built as part of the project to remove the metals.
“Our commitment to complete construction of the water treatment plant is a necessary part of fulfilling our agreement with the city, and many residents have expressed their support for the project through the ongoing public involvement process,” said Omar Jabara, a Newmont spokesman, in a statement.
Bakelmun at a Planning Commission meeting last month said his front door would be 40 feet from the project.
“We realize the project must be done, but just not here,” Bakelmun said. “There are so many other options.”
Residents had until 5 p.m. Oct. 5 to pay the $1,374.20 fee and file their appeal. They filed the paperwork that day.
According to Bakelmun, the property owners who appealed contributed to the fee. He anticipates more homeowners and residents will join their efforts.
“We need people to come on board and support us,” Bakelmun said. “Otherwise, they can do this to anyone.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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