EIR needed for Herlong subdivision
Pacific Holt proposed the subdivision in December 2006 and applied for a general plan amendment to change the land use designation from extensive agriculture to rural residential. It also applied for a rezone from A-1, general agriculture district, to A-2-B-10, agricultural residential, building site combining with a 10-acre minimum parcel size.
The 120-acre property “is located close to the Honey Lake shoreline and along the north side of Highway 395, approximately one-half mile northwest of intersection of Hwy. 395 and Herlong Access Road,” which is also County Road 359, according to the planning department’s staff report.
“I do think that the (Highway) 395 corridor is a mess to be honest with you,” Hanson said at the board’s Tuesday, July 24 public hearing. “I think we have too many easements or encroachments onto that highway.”
Most of the encroachments onto Highway 395 in Milford and Janesville were made when the highway was less traveled and not traveled as fast, he said, adding the county needs a more comprehensive plan for encroachments onto the highway.
As far as the ag-land conversion, Hanson said a number of parcels along the lakebed with similar soil and water availability are successfully irrigating for agricultural use.
“I do think that it is a piece of potentially productive agricultural land,” he said.
At its May 2 meeting, the Lassen County Planning Commission required Pacific Holt to complete an EIR, following the recommendation of the county Environmental Review Officer.
The ERO recommended an EIR “due to the potentially significant effects to the environment resulting from the possible approval of the proposal,” according to the staff report.
Pacific Holt appealed the commission’s decision to the board. Only Mark Herman, of Pacific Holt, spoke at the board’s public hearing. He reviewed a document several inches thick, full of mitigation measures the company proposed to lessen the environmental impacts of the project to a less-than-significant level.
Herman also said the project will help increase enrollment at Herlong schools, cut greenhouse gasses, help the wandering skipper, a butterfly listed as an endangered species on Aug. 7, 2002, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and is supported by almost all the business owners between the Nevada border and Janesville.
The board must require an EIR if there is a fair argument that the project will have an impact on the environment, according to County Administrative Officer John Ketelsen.
“I think the applicant himself has proven that by the lengthy comments and the proposed mitigations,” Ketelsen said.
Hanson agreed, saying “The document you presented to us is probably the size of many EIRs we have prepared for us. In my estimation you have a lot of good consultants in here.”
Directing the planning staff to work with Herman, Hanson suggested Pacific Holt may already have collected all the information needed for the EIR.
The board unanimously voted to uphold the planning commission and the ERO’s recommendation and require the environmental impact report.
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