McCain faces fine for Willow Creek dam failures
McCain declined to comment on the complaint.
It alleges they violated waste discharge prohibitions contained in the Water Quality Control plan for the Lahontan region by discharging waste earthen materials into Willow Creek when parts of both the Buz and Skeet dams washed away during flooding between Dec. 15, 2005, and Jan. 2, 2006.
It identified McCain as a corporate officer of B.J. Deis and as president of McCain and Associates, which contracts to act as the agent and engineer for various projects on Belfast Ranch for Deis. It also identified him as partly responsible for the design and construction and Buzz Dam repairs, and as an individual with substantial control over the project.
It said Everd and Iona McCain operate Belfast Ranch, located 3.2 miles north of County Road A-27, west of Belfast Road.
The Skeet Dam was built in the summer of 2005. Originally built in 1982, the Buz Dam was repaired in the mid-1990s and again in 2002.
The complaint also alleges violations of the Clean Water Act because the project discharged waste earthen materials into Willow Creek during construction of the Skeet Dam without a Clean Water Act section 404 Dredge and Fill Permit from the Army Corp of Engineers nor a Clean Water Act section 401 Water Quality Certification from Lahontan.
The complaint alleged the project violated the California Water Code by failing to implement measures to temporarily stabilize the site as required by a Lahontan cleanup and abatement order. It also alleges failure to submit required revegetation monitoring reports for the Buz Dam repair project and failure to submit required reports and documentation by their due dates.
The majority of violations occurred during an approximately two-year period beginning in June 2005. At McCain’s request, Lahontan rescheduled a public hearing set for Jan. 9 and 10 to the water board’s meeting on March 12 and 13. At the hearing, McCain and Deis may contest the allegations in the complaint.
The property was the subject "Belfast Initiative,” or Measure D in the November 2002 general election. McCain announced plans to build a private 18-hole golf course, an archery range, rifle range, game-bird farm, football field, baseball field, lake and offer horseback riding.
Measure D, approved by 53.8 percent of voters, rezoned the area as mountain resort, amended the Lassen County General Plan, the Standish-Litchfield Area Plan and the Lassen County Zoning Ordinance. It allowed for the development of a recreational mountain resort area on Belfast Road near Litchfield.
More specifically, it amended the Lassen County General Plan Land Use Designation map and the Standish-Litchfield Area Plan map putting the property in the Belfast Road area in the MR zone. The amendment specified the recreational, residential and commercial uses permitted on land covered by the zone. The MR zone requires at least 60 percent of the land to be reserved for open space.
It required the county to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act prior to the county's approval of subdivision maps or their discretionary approvals required for the creation of such a resort.
The measure also permitted limited amendments to the initiative by the voters and did not permit the board of supervisors to change the general plan designation of lands designated "mountain resort," or change the zoning designation of lands in the MR district zoning unless the owners of the affected property make a written application for such change.
Uses now permitted in the affected area include lodges, hotels, condominiums, retail establishments restaurants, offices and housing, grocery and convenience stores, book stores and beauty salons, bars, taverns, bakeries, delicatessens, brew pubs and wineries, banks, medical and dental offices, television and radio stations, industrial uses such as laundries, warehousing, research and development facilities, woodworking shops and printing plants, convention and conference centers, service stations, marine-related equipment rental, service and sales and theaters and auditoriums.
The board put the project on hold in January 2003 to work out inconsistencies with the county general plan and the Standish-Litchfield Area Plan. After reaching an agreement with McCain, it voted in June 2003 to amend the plans to ensure they are consistent with the mountain resort zone, and ensure the MR zone was consistent with the Williamson Act, which gives property owners tax breaks for keeping land in agriculture.
McCain said he’s still trying to get permits for the resort from Lahontan, the Corp of Engineers, Fish and Game and the Division of Water Rights.
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