In a major step toward a final vote on the proposed Weldon Canyon landfill, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 Tuesday to recommend that the county Planning Commission approve an environmental impact report on the project.
Acting as the Environmental Report Review Committee, the supervisors voted to recommend certification of the document’s third draft, which now totals more than 1,200 pages--nearly four times the length that the California Environmental Quality Act recommends for such reports.
Supervisor Maria E. VanderKolk, who has declared opposition to the Weldon Canyon project in the past, cast the sole no vote.
VanderKolk said the report “doesn’t meet the objectives of the project that is outlined” by Waste Management Inc., the company that proposes to build the landfill. “It doesn’t meet their objectives to provide an environmentally safe waste disposal site. . . . Significant impacts are unavoidable.”
However, the other supervisors said the project--good or bad--must move quickly to a final vote.
“I think that the EIR does still lack some important information, and I can’t recommend it be certified today,” Supervisor Susan K. Lacey said.
She asked county planners for more data, such as a more detailed study of the cost and pollution involved in an alternative proposal to ship Ventura County’s trash by rail to a landfill in Utah.
“But I’m not ready to simply deny the project,” said Lacey, who also has professed some reservations about the project. “I believe (the report) is close enough to completion. I don’t want to drag out the process; I really don’t.”
Supervisor Maggie Kildee said the report will be adequate once county planners add the requested information. She said the project must move to a vote, adding, “It is time for us to really say yes or no.”
The third draft of the Weldon report, including nearly 400 pages of comments by critics and responses to them from the county planning staff, will be presented in its final form to the Planning Commission by mid- to late April, county Planner Scott Ellison said.
After reviewing the report, the Planning Commission is expected to hold a hearing on the project in late May, a hearing that could be held jointly with the Board of Supervisors. The supervisors would be able to hold a final vote on the project after that date.
Tuesday’s vote marked the latest milestone in the long road toward a final vote on whether a landfill for western Ventura County should be built in Weldon Canyon.
Waste Management, operator of the Simi Valley Landfill, which primarily serves eastern Ventura County, proposes to spend $50 million developing the site and to charge a dumping fee of $37.52 per ton.
The vote by no means makes the proposal a done deal, said Mike Williams, a vice president for Waste Management, which has been seeking approval of the Weldon Canyon landfill since 1985.
But Williams added: “It’s nice to see it move on and get over the decision constipation that we’ve seen in the past.”