City delays vote on Sierra Park declaration
June 15, 2013 — Susanville City Council members delayed the adoption of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) for the proposed Sierra Community Park at Wednesday’s open meeting.
The declaration, which was authorized by the city council in January, identified the potential environmental and biological impacts the Sierra Community Park may have on wildlife, plants and land.
Environmental planning agency Hauge Brueck Associates representative Anders Hauge presented the declaration findings of potential impacts present at the 17.6-acre land plot. Hauge stated there was little evidence in their findings that show a possible large effect on the environment.
While Private Consulting biologist Gordon Ponting agreed with the lack of environmental impact, he found a problem with the language present in the delaration that would require the city and various organizations to follow through on biological surveys and tests he deemed unneeded.
“I believe the council would be violating their judiciary responsibility by agreeing to the language written in here … I shall do this, this and this,” said Ponting during the public hearing portion. “To my understanding, shall means you have to do it. If you pass this as written, you’re obligating yourself to do that.”
Ponting’s main concern focused on the citizens of Susanville and their tax-paying dollars, “It’s a hell of a lot of money.”
Despite City Administrator Jared G. Hancock informing the council that the changes suggested are minor in nature and that the document could be adopted, Mayor Rod DeBoer declared he would not sign the declaration until a properly written document was presented to the council.
Hauge agreed to the slight changes of wording within the documents and the declaration will be presented again and voted upon for adoption at the June 19 meeting.
Hancock warned the council that adopting the declaration would not lock them into approving the Sierra Community Park Project but would allow them to move through the CEQA process securing them refunds on the money already spent. Once the CEQA process has been completed, the council will be able to accept or deny the project without penalty.
The findings of the declaration stemmed from an April 22 survey conducted by Hauge Brueck Associates that found potential for a Carson Wandering Skipper habitat, 13 possible special plant species and an active Black Billed Magpie nest. However, because the survey was conducted early in the season, the supposed environmental impacts cannot be confirmed or ruled out.
Additionally, several wetland areas were discovered, known and unknown, with one overlapping with a planned soccer field. As a result, a new site plan has been drafted rearranging the proposed amenities of the park.
An additional public hearing on the adoption of the declaration will be held on June 19.
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