01/05/2009: ""Old" Regulations May Not Stop A New Dump"
//11/03/2008// The County Council held a public hearing Tuesday to present AN ORDINANCE Amending San Juan County’s Comprehensive Plan To Allow For EPF (Essential Public Facilities) that may solve the problem of siting such things as dumps and barge landings in areas that would normally prohibit them.
According to the Staff Report, it is the legal opinion of the County that “Regulations may not preclude the siting, expansion or operation of Essential Public Facilities" and it is not necessary to mitigate negative environmental impacts, since only "reasonable mitigation of adverse impacts" is required.
When the former County Commissioners found out they could not place a barge landing anywhere they wanted to, and in particular in areas protected from development, they directed the planning department to change the Comprehensive Plan and the Uniform Development Code to allow “essential public facilities in areas that now prohibit them.
One of the first work sessions to change the codes took place back in 2005.
The attempt ran into stiff legal challenges, but by mid-year of 2005 the legal process was well under way to make it possible to place EPF where the County wants them, not where the regulations allow them..
Normal procedure in the past has been to appoint a citizens committee, but Public Works objected that citizen input would slow down the process -and they were not happy with who would serve on the committee- so the idea of a committee was dropped; only to come up again a few months later, but still no action was taken, and eventually it was decided to not have a committee for barge landings..
since then, the barge landing idea has been put on hold, and the desire of Public Works to construct a new equipment yard and build a new transfer station have come to the top of the list of what the County would like to do; if they can just get around the existing regulations. The new ordinance should do the trick.