Councilwoman appeals commission's approval on tank removal

Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Connie Boardman has appealed the Planning Commission's decision to allow a property owner to remove three oil tanks from the city's southeastern area while leaving adjacent piping in place.

The commission voted last month to approve the proposal from Plains All American Pipeline, a Texas-based company that seeks to demolish the defunct oil tanks and more than 2,000 feet of above-ground piping. Boardman filed her appeal shortly after the March 8 vote and said the council will vote on the matter in the coming weeks.

Boardman and other environmentalists have decried the plan to retain the piping that extends from the property at 21845 Magnolia St. and crosses through the wetlands.

If the pipes degrade with time, then rust, paint and other substances could get into the habitats, she said.

"I believe it's appropriate, as the tank farm is dismantled, that all the infrastructure associated with it be dismantled," she said. "There's piping that goes across the Huntington Beach wetlands that has no further economic use, but the zoning administrator had not required that that piping be removed, and I think it's appropriate for it to be removed."

Boardman is the second city official to file an appeal over Plains All American's project this year. The zoning administrator approved the plan Jan. 19, and Planning Commissioner Mark Bixby appealed the decision shortly after.

The commission approved the project 5 to 2.

Boardman filed her appeal on behalf of the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy, a nonprofit that owns the wetlands adjacent to Plains All American's property.

Conservancy Chairman Gordon Smith said his group wants the piping out so it can continue its efforts.

"If these pipes don't lead anywhere and they're not of use to anybody, it makes sense to take them out so we can restore our marsh," he said.

Smith added that if the council approves the project, he plans to appeal to the California Coastal Commission.

The state Coastal Conservancy has sided with Smith, writing in a March 8 letter to the city's Planning Division that the piping should be removed along with the oil tanks.

A spokesman for Plains All American did not return a call seeking comment.

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