Let the chips fall where they may? | TheUnion.com

Let the chips fall where they may?

An experimental wood chipping operation has been shut down after neighbors opposed it – and Nevada County’s lawyer agreed the mill’s proposed tryout period was not permitted by county code.

County Planning Director Jory Stewart issued a cease and desist order on Thursday to stop Cutting Edge Wood Recycling from using the old Bohemia Mill site on Brunswick at Bennett roads, just east of Grass Valley.

Stewart authorized temporary grinding operations for Cutting Edge owners Randy Subbotin and Jerry Horbach on Jan. 4 to see whether their proposed wood chipping operation would bother area residents. The firm grinds green waste from the Nevada County garbage transfer station and sells it to Sierra Pacific Industries for electricity cogeneration.

Stewart authorized a 30-day test period after consulting with Supervisor John Spencer, because they agreed a tryout was in order, she said.

“It was an experiment to see what dust and noise an operation like that would generate, and they have run their course,” Spencer said. Subbotin “had his opportunity.”

On March 3, Brunswick Manor Homeowners Association attorney Jeffrey Bordelon, of Auburn, sent a letter to Stewart, saying county zoning would not allow the grinding and that it was an inappropriate site.

On March 25, Stewart sent a letter to Subbotin saying County Counsel Mike Jamison found nothing in county planning codes to allow the temporary use tryout. She added county officials thought Subbotin had not reached out to the surrounding community for comment – as asked for in the tryout authorization.

“I thought we had the ability to let somebody do this,” Stewart said Monday. “Mr. Bordelon said he didn’t think we had that authority, and he was right.

“Mike Jamison looked at the codes and agreed,” Stewart added. “We issued the cease and desist order, and (Subbotin) is now in the process (of applying) for a full use permit.”

Subbotin confirmed he was pursuing a full use permit for his project, saying a canvass he did of neighbor opinion shows many residents are not opposed.

“They just don’t want to see anything go up there that’s industrial,” Subbotin said of the opposition. “I’m not bitter. I understand their position, and they understand mine.”

Subbotin also said he believes wood chipping is legal on the property, based on an existing use permit for the old mill issued to Sierra Pacific Industries years ago.

Homeowners association representative Dr. John Hagele lives just south of the site and said the wood chipping idea is good for the county – but not for a neighborhood because of the noise the mill produced.

“It was different when the (Bohemia) Mill was running” and not as many houses were in the surrounding area, Hagele said.

“The real concern is that it is not a legitimate use of the property” under current zoning, Hagele said. “We certainly need it in the area, but we just don’t think it’s the right place.”

The association and Bordelon stopped the Fire Safe Council from setting up a green waste operation there in 2005, according to county documents.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4237.

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