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Full Recycling Site EIR Not Needed

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In a compromise that left some Moorpark-area residents fuming, a county planning panel ruled Wednesday that a recycling center proposed north of the city does not need a full environmental impact report detailing the project’s possible effects.

Instead, county planners will beef up a far smaller environmental document already prepared for the 14.5-acre project, which would turn part of the old Egg City chicken ranch off Grimes Canyon Road into a sorting facility for scrap lumber, cardboard and concrete from construction sites.

Residents of the hills surrounding Egg City had demanded a full environmental report, maintaining that the project, 4 1/2 miles north of Moorpark on unincorporated county land, could increase truck traffic on local roads and dump pollution into the air, streams and soil. Members of the county’s Environmental Report Review Committee voted Wednesday to include some of those concerns in the project’s environmental document.

But the document, called a mitigated negative declaration, will not go into nearly the detail of a full report.

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Perhaps more important, the amended declaration will take about a month to complete. A full report could take nine months and cost the project’s developer--M Maintenance of Oxnard--more than $50,000, committee Chairman Bob Laughlin said.

Rancher Patty Waters, spearheading efforts against the recycling center, said she and her neighbors may appeal the decision to the county Board of Supervisors. An appeal must be filed by Feb. 15.

“I think they tried to appease everyone,” she said Wednesday.

Waters, part of a family that has ranched the area north of Moorpark for 80 years, said the recycling project posed a threat to nearby citrus and avocado groves, and could ruin the area’s agricultural nature.

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“When you bring industry into an agricultural area, you destroy agriculture,” she said.

Joseph Reisdorf, representing M Maintenance, countered that the Egg City site was hardly a pristine piece of agricultural land. Although many of the old chicken coops have been torn down, the property is still covered by concrete pads and laced with water and power lines.

“This is a highly developed site that over the past 30 years has been used as such,” he said.

The committee’s vote came after Waters appealed an earlier county Planning Department decision not to require a full impact report. During two committee meetings--the first held in January--opponents argued that the mitigated negative declaration was full of holes and omissions, such as:

* Traffic studies for the project, opponents said, did not take into account construction of a new elementary school several miles to the south. Parents of the school’s students would use the same highway as trucks going to and from the center.

* Some of Egg City’s concrete pads may be 30 years old. Designed to hold chicken coops, they may not be strong enough to support the recycling center’s equipment, opponents said.

* Chemicals from recyclable material, opponents complained, could leach into nearby streams, despite a water-detention basin downhill from the project.

Rancher David Schwabauer said such questions warranted a full environmental impact report.

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“It is not a matter of liking or not liking something,” he said. “The EIR needs to be filed.”

But only one committee member, Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Jim Fullmer, agreed. The other four members opted to expand the mitigated negative declaration to cover additional questions about traffic, dust generation and ground-water contamination.

Unable to sway other committee members, Fullmer eventually voted to expand the existing document.

If opponents decide not to appeal the decision, the recycling center proposal would next go to the county Planning Commission.


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