Rancor over asphalt plant continues
Residents of Meadow Vista and surrounding communities challenging a local mining company’s asphalt permit can voice their concerns at a public hearing Thursday at the Placer County Planning Commission.
“We’ve been asking for a public hearing for the last three years,” said Cheryl Berg, a member of Meadow Vista Protection, a group of residents including people from Lake of the Pines in southern Nevada County. Berg said that she was both skeptical and excited by the hearing.
The planning commission granted the public hearing after a Colfax man appealed a finding by Placer County Planning Director Michael Johnson upholding the legality of a 1972 asphalt permit issued to Chevreaux Aggregates Inc.
Meadow Vista Protection filed a lawsuit against Chevreaux in July 2006. The lawsuit alleged the Auburn-based company’s permit to operate an asphalt plant at its mining operation on Combie Road in Meadow Vista had lapsed, and the company must produce an environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act.
In a memo pre-dated for Thursday, July 12, the day of the hearing, and addressed to the Placer County Planning Commission, Johnson recommends that the Planning Commission deny the appeal and confirm his determination, written on May 18 to Chevreaux’s former attorney, Brigit Barnes.
Barnes used the letter to support arguments that the lawsuit be dismissed because Chevreaux’s asphalt permit is valid. A Placer County judge ruled against dismissing the lawsuit on June 19. A trial date is set for November.
When contacted by The Union, Johnson was attending a board supervisor’s hearing on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
Jeff Evans, Chairman of Meadow Vista Protection, questioned the planning commission’s decision to accept the appeal.
“I’m not hopeful that there will be any turnaround whatsoever,” Evans said, adding that if the appeal is denied, Meadow Vista residents can appeal to the Placer County Board of Supervisors.
When sending out the public notice for the hearing, the Planning Commission sent an e-mail to eight property owners who live near the Chevreaux operation in Meadow Vista, Evans said. Evans, whose house borders the Chevreaux property, did not receive notice of the hearing, he added.
Two Meadow Vista residents energized by the hearing picketed Tuesday morning outside of the Chevreaux concrete plant on Grass Valley Highway in Auburn.
Carrying a sign that read, “Asphalt plants kill birds, fish, community and children,” Linnie O’Flanagan said she was hoping to raise awareness about the asphalt plant among Nevada County residents.
Lake of the Pines sits within three miles of the asphalt plant, and would be affected by fumes and diesel pollution if the plant resumed operation, according to Meadow Vista Protection.
“We all need to speak up,” O’Flanagan said.
The hearing will take place at 11:25 a.m. on Thursday at the Auburn Office of the Placer County Planning Department, 3091 County Center Drive. For more information, call 745-3080.
To contact Staff Writer Jill Bauerle, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4219.
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