Ruling: Asphalt plant is legal
An asphalt plant near Lake of the Pines has a legal permit to operate, the Placer County Planning Commission ruled Thursday – dealing a blow to neighbors who say it pollutes the area.
The 5-1 decision came after an emotional, three-hour hearing attended by a standing-room only crowd of supporters on both sides of the issue. More than 20 people spoke, with the crowd occasionally bursting into applause.
The plant creates too much noise, said Richard Goodwin, a resident on Placer Hills Road. In 2001, operations were starting before daybreak, he said.
“It was like the sound of a jet revving its engines for take-off,” the Navy aviation veteran said. “I’m not exaggerating about the sound level.”
During the hearing, Planning Commissioner Michael Johnson defended his finding that the 1972 permit is legal. On May 18, he wrote his finding in a letter to attorney Brigit Barnes, who represented permit holder Chevreaux Aggregrates Inc. in a lawsuit filed against Chevreaux by Meadow Vista Protection.
Goodwin appealed Johnson’s finding to the planning commission. At the hearing, Goodwin called the finding “wishful thinking” that did not cite any legal authority and contained verbiage that was similar to Barnes’ letter requesting the determination.
County Counsel Scott Finley said Johnson had consulted him before writing his finding, and Johnson had the authority to interpret Placer County Code.
“Not enough investigation”
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. The suit also alleged the company must produce an environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act.
Mike Fleming, who represented Chevreaux at the hearing, said it would be unfair to shut down a part of the business. He dismissed arguments that Chevreaux’s permit had lapsed.
Dean Prigmore, a former assistant planning director in Placer County, spoke at the hearing about a finding that then-planning director Tom McMahon made in 1976 upholding Chevreaux’s asphalt permit.
“I felt strongly that there hadn’t been enough investigation into the requirements (for the permit) and that the plant had been abandoned,” Prigmore said.
McMahon had based some of the information of his 1976 determination on information provided by Chevreaux, rather than an independent investigation, Prigmore said.
Planning Commissioner Jim Forman provided the only dissenting vote.
County Counsel Finley, reached by telephone after the hearing, said citizens have the right to appeal the planning commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors.
To contact Staff Writer Jill Bauerle, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4219.
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