Supervisors discuss Eagle Lake resort
Oct. 16, 2012 — Can the county simply modify its planning documents to allow a four-season resort at south Eagle Lake near the Marina or should the developers bear the estimated $250,000 cost of a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review?
That’s the question District 1 Supervisor Bob Pyle brought before the board at it’s Tuesday, Oct. 9 meeting. No project has been proposed, but if the county can find a way to “correct” what engineer Fred Nagel refers to as “inconsistencies” in the county’s planning documents, plans for a four-season resort at the lake could come forward.
According to a letter written to the planning department May 2, Nagel asked the county to permit campsites and campgrounds by right, rezone property he alleges is incorrectly zoned and allow recreation uses by right.
Nagel wrote, “It also seems logical that campgrounds should be allowed by right in (Resort) RS zones as well. If ‘lodges, motels, hotels, convenience stores, bars, taverns, restaurants, curio shops and dancehalls’ are allowed by right, what possible additional impact could result from relatively innocuous campgrounds? … We feel these issues must be addressed before any serious planning efforts can be initiated on this land. Please advise how Lassen County wishes to address these requests.”
Pyle, who represents the area, complained about the environmental review process and how state regulations discourage development.
“To me, that’s (CEQA) obscene, but it’s state law.” Pyle said. “People wonder why aren’t Lassen County, Modoc County, Siskiyou County, Solano County or Yolo County doing more. It’s because of CEQA. If you go for the same permit in Nevada, you put a shovel in the ground, and you go. In California, you’re looking a three years and half a million dollars depending on the size and scope of the project.”
Pyle said these regulations result in the loss of thousands of jobs in California.
“It’s not the county’s fault,” Pyle said. “It’s CEQA, which is a state law.”
Pyle asked the board how the county can determine if it can amend its General Plan and Area Plan or if it must go through the CEQA process.
“I’m a little emotional about it because it does irritate me,” Pyle said. “We can’t do anything in Lassen County, the state of California, without getting beat up by this kind of (expletive). It’s not our fault. It’s not our staff’s fault. It’s the state’s fault. I guess my question to Maury (Anderson) or Marty (Nichols) is where do we draw that line?”
Maury Anderson, the county’s director of planning and building services, had issues with the entire discussion. He said he cannot identify any inconsistencies in the county’s planning documents.
According to Anderson, those documents reflect the decisions made by the board of supervisors at the time they were created with the intention of protecting Eagle Lake.
“We’ve been rolling along for the last 30 years operating under that premise,” Anderson said. “That’s it in a nutshell. There are no mistakes. It was a choice by the board at the time. It may not be the choice now. So be it, and we’ll do whatever the board says it wants to do … But at the end of the day, what’s being proposed is a modification of the zoning ordinance to allow pretty much anything under the sun, and that is a substantial departure from what is in place right now.”
According to Anderson’s analysis, the idea of a resort conflicts with the recreational uses cited in the county’s planning documents.
“I’m sort of perplexed why this is a mistake by the county,” Anderson said. “The board may want to go in a different direction, and that’s fine, but I don’t think there’s anything unclear about the zoning district or the general plan.”
Anderson said in his opinion, making changes to those planning documents would require a CEQA review — even if the county made changes.
Pyle asked how Anderson arrived at that determination.
“I would take my years of experience, the classes I’ve been to, my degree and offer my opinion,” Anderson said. “You can take it or leave it, but I’m here to help the county protect its purse strings as well as help development. If we want development in south Eagle Lake, then I think we go about it in a comprehensive manner, but to me, this doesn’t represent that … I don’t see the mistakes and I don’t think this is the way to proceed with a full-service, four-season resort.”
Anderson also noted such large projects always attract detractors.
“That’s Dyer Mountain,” Anderson said, “and there’s opposition because things of that scale find opposition. We may be all pro-business and want to see development, but even when you go about it correctly, you get tied up in litigation.”
Pyle said the issue before the board is whether the county will do it or if the developers will do it.
District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman noted state law has changed over the years and environmental reviews that are required today were not required 30 years ago. He said all the governmental reviews required today “pile on” and that’s the reason there isn’t more development in the state.
No action was taken because the matter was on the agenda as an information item.
Westwood resident Eileen Spencer asked the item be agendized so she could make a presentation to the board. The board said it will include the issue on its Oct. 23 agenda.
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