TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Silence of Collapse
What’s Your Watershed Contribution?
Humboldt County Changes General Plan
Creating Solutions in in Era of Conflicts Over Water
SCWA’s Role in a Sustainable Regional Future
Your Letters Really Help
Feinstein Give-Away of One Million Acre-Feet of Water
Maintaining Instream Flows — Assembly Bill 2121
Rohnert Park Casino
“Super-right” to Water
Keep the Code
Richardson Grove: Shall a Larger Highway Run Through It?
Railroad Proposals Under Scrutiny
The Invasion of the Eel River Watershed
Redway School 4th-Grade Students Learn About Invasive Plants
CATs Loves the Eel, Defends It Against Herbicide
Biological Effects of the Cape Horn Dam on Salmonids
|Keep the Code
by Charles Martin
For the past three years the citizens of Mendocino County have been opposing a General Plan Zoning Change that would permit the permanent installation of an asphalt and/or cement plant in any of the 30 operating rock quarries in Mendocino County.
The applicant, Northern Aggregates, has applied to the Planning & Building Services Department of the County of Mendocino to amend the Inland Zoning Code, Div. I of Title 20, Sections 20.036.005 and 20.036.010, which would enable them to change the zoning of their quarry property from Timber Preserves to a Combined Heavy Industrial zone.
At issue is a requested extension of their 10-year use permit, which expired January 2007; the company now seeks an “End of Life” 100-year permit, and a tripling of the extraction rate from 70,000 to 200,000 cubic yards per year over this period. They also wish to install a permanent 300-ton/hour continuous hot-mix asphalt plant and a batch-mix concrete plant on their property.
The quarry site in question is adjacent to Ridgewood Ranch, “Home of Seabiscuit,” a famous racehorse, and also borders 5,000 acres of land owned by the Golden Rule Church Association. Many of these acres are under a Conservation Easement managed by the Mendocino Land Trust.
Visible from Highway 101, the site is located at the summit of Laughlin Ridge between Willits and Ukiah; this is the dividing line between the Russian and Eel River watersheds. The headwaters of both river systems have signs on Highway 101 installed by Caltrans. Forsythe Creek, a tributary of the Russian River, runs within a half-mile of the quarry and proposed site of the industrial asphalt and cement plants.
The asphalt plant alone will dispense more than 30,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), both toxic carcinogenic and mutagenic substances that will condense in the cooler atmosphere and precipitate downwind over the headwaters of both river systems.
All of this is located within one mile of the La Vida Charter School (K-12) and 30 residences of the Christ Church of the Golden Rule; one and a half miles from the site is Golden Rule Mobile Village & RV Park with a hundred senior residences.
The company proposes to use cloth bag filters on the asphalt plant emissions, which are great for dust particle control but totally ineffective for volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Best Available Control Technology (BACT) is not being proposed even though it is required by the Mendocino County Air Quality Control Management District. BACT consists of routing all exhaust gasses through an afterburner, which holds the exhaust gasses for one second at 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. The above equipment and technology have been available and in use throughout the U.S. for 40 years.
This proposal can only be described as pure unadulterated greed with no regard for the health and well-being of the citizens of Mendocino County and the pristine environment that most of us cherish and expect to be preserved by our government officials.
The aggregate consortium in Marin, Napa, and Sonoma counties has been restricted by various environmental regulations, especially gravel mining operations along the Russian River and its tributaries. These companies are now coordinating with the Northern California Railroad Association (NCRA) to ship quarry products via the proposed reopened railroad.
The City of Willits has been approached by Peter Kock, Kock Industries with Doug Bosco, of the NCRA to open up the Laughlin Ridge Quarry, above the city’s drinking water reservoir (east of Highway 101), so that the products can be transported to a railroad siding and shipped via rail. The NCRA has also requested access from another adjacent large landowner near the summit, also reachable by road to the railroad siding at the top of Laughlin Ridge. Fortunately, both have rejected the offers and requests. But for how long will they hold out if new members of Willits City Council are favorable to the project? How long will the landowners hold out when offered a substantial lease sum for the rights to start a new quarry?
Keep the Code is a small citizens’ group that has opposed this project for more than three years. In 2005 we forced the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to require that Northern Aggregates pay for an Environmental Impact Report, in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); this report is now nearing completion. Keep the Code has hired technical consultants to evaluate the EIR and testify at Planning Commission hearings; we’ve also enlisted a prestigious law firm, experienced in CEQA litigation, to represent us before the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors hearings.
Donations are welcome and can be made out to the Willits Environmental Center, with “Keep the Code” noted in the memo portion of the check. Please send to KTC, P.O. Box 598, Ukiah, CA 95482. Thanks for your support!
Further information on this subject may be obtained by contacting the author at the phone and address below.
Charles H. Martin, Member of the Steering Committee, Keep the Code
16100 North Highway 101, #17
Willits, CA 95490