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Countywide : Board Delays Vote on Project Reviews

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday postponed until next week a decision on whether to bypass a technical review board in evaluating some environmental impact reports.

The board also put off a decision on a second revision to the county’s policy on the California Environmental Quality Act, which would eliminate some opportunities for appeals on environmental report findings.

Board members debated the merits of the county Planning Division recommendations but came to no conclusions.

Instead, the recommendations will come back before the board Tuesday. County planners said the revisions would save time for county staff and money for developers and other project applicants. But environmentalists said the changes would diminish the voice of the public. Under existing policy, all reports on the environmental effects of proposed projects are examined by the Environmental Report Review Committee, a team of seven technical advisers, to determine whether they are adequate. Advisers are drawn from county departments that include planning, public works, environmental health, the Air Pollution Control District, the agriculture commissioner’s office, the Fire Protection District and the Local Agency Formation Commission.

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Under the Planning Division recommendations, when the county staff declares that a proposed project would have no significant impacts and makes a “negative declaration,” the proposed project would bypass the technical advisers and go directly to the decision-making body. The environmental review committee would still examine reports that show significant effects to determine whether they adequately address potential environmental damage.

With the existing policy, environmentalists or others who disagree with the committee’s findings on whether the reports are adequate can appeal the findings to the Board of Supervisors.

Under the second Planning Division recommendation, appeals would no longer be allowed.


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