Supervisors want focused EIR for Janesville subdivision
Surrounded on two sides by existing housing developments, the land is owned by William Lee, of Reno, and George Stohmeyer, and Ed and Kelly Callagy, of Janesville. Three homes already sit on the four parcels involved.
Engineer and former District 5 Supervisor Everd McCain applied to change the land use designation on the property from intensive agriculture to rural residential and the zoning from general agriculture to agriculture residential with four-acre-minimum parcel sizes.
Lassen County’s environmental review officer ordered the developers to prepare an environmental impact report to study the project’s impacts, including aesthetics, agriculture, air quality, biological and cultural resources, geology and soils, water, noise, recreation, traffic and population.
McCain appealed the need for an EIR to the Board of Supervisors.
“Gentlemen, you have again before you a presentation by your planning staff on all the reasons why we shouldn’t develop in Lassen County,” McCain said at a public hearing the board held on Tuesday, March 25.
The board set the hearing to determine if the developers must complete an EIR or the county may issue a negative declaration, saying steps proposed by the developers will mitigate any significant impacts on the environment.
“This is a classic example of a perfectly good developable piece of property,” he told the board. “It would be an infill to provide needed residential rural housing and your staff has elected to throw the book at it, as you can tell from all the things they think are potentially significant.”
The potential impacts identified in the planning staff’s report to the board included the aesthetic impact of 33 new homes in an area designated a scenic corridor in the county’s General Plan.
It also questioned the impact of new traffic entering and exiting Highway 395 from the subdivision. It said removing native vegetation, increased vehicle collisions and fencing might impact habitat for deer and other wildlife.
The report also sited a potentially significant impact to groundwater resources from the use of individual wells at each home site. Thirteen neighboring residents signed a letter asking the board to require an EIR.
“First, due to the great number of potential parcels and the need for water, we are very concerned about the water-table levels and the continued availability of water,” the letter stated.
It also questioned the impact on traffic, fire danger, deer and coyote habitat and that of owls, bobcats, quails, doves, mountain lions and rattlesnakes.
The area may be culturally significant because a Native American village and campsite were recorded in the vicinity, according to the Northeast Center of the California Historical Resources Information System.
The area was used by Northern Paiute, Mountain Maidu, Washoe and Pit River tribes, stated a letter to the county from Susanville Indian Rancheria Tribal Chairman Stacy Dixon. The letter said the area is located within SIR’s cultural resource protection zone.
“Village sites, burial sites, rock cairns, milling stations, bedrock mortars, lithic scatters, and associated manos, metates, hammerstones, projectile points, fire cracked rock, charcoal, and knolls have been recorded in the project vicinity,” Dixon wrote.
McCain said requiring a full-blown EIR to study every possible environmental impact would kill the project.
“This county has never had a project be completed where you required an EIR and it was done,” McCain said. “It’s a no answer, realize that when you’re making this decision. … It’s not that way in other counties, but in this county it’s a fact of life because of your planning department. … They kill any project that you require an EIR on.”
McCain suggested a focused EIR and the board voted 5-0 to require an environmental impact report to study only the impacts of the development on cultural resources, traffic, water availability, wildlife and fire, and cumulative impacts.
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