Harvey approved for Coldstream Water Facility: Environmentalists, state parks to appeal planning commission decision | SierraSun.com

Harvey approved for Coldstream Water Facility: Environmentalists, state parks to appeal planning commission decision

Scott Hess

Walter Harvey has not had an easy time trying to use his 26 acres in Coldstream Canyon.

In 1982, as president of Sunstone International, LTD, Harvey and Sunstone proposed building a ski resort in the area, but the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1984.

In 2001, Harvey applied to Placer County to collect and transport water – with up to 12 truck trips per day – from an existing well on his property. Although the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved the project, the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation filed a lawsuit, demanding an environmental impact report.

This year, Harvey reapplied for a conditional use permit, but with a reduced application – he asked for a maximum of six truck trips per day.

Placer County Principal Planner Bill Combs said, “The issues discussed [at the Aug. 14 meeting] were the same as two years ago.” He said the attendance was much smaller than before, with representatives from the California State Parks Department, MAPF and “a couple other individuals.”

Combs added, “The county staff recommended approval, but it wasn’t an easy decision to arrive at.”

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Still, Harvey will not have an easy time gaining full approval. “This [approval] process should be much the same as last time,” said Stefanie Olivieri, president of MAPF. “We will appeal the planning commission decision to the board of supervisors. Should they pass it, we will sue for a full environmental [impact] report.”

Ken Anderson, a senior ecologist for the state parks department, said it would be appealing the planning commission approval as well. The parks department did not join in the litigation with MAPF last time, but Anderson said they had not made a decision on that yet.

Issues with the plan

Olivieri said with trucks driving in and through public lands, the area would be destroyed. Like last time around, Olivieri said MAPF would use the California Environmental Quality Act to back its claim.

The reason the issue has been so volatile is because of Harvey’s neighbors. Public lands – owned by the parks department, a couple land trusts and the U.S. Forest Service – surround Harvey’s private land. For trucks to get to Harvey’s holding tanks, they would have to drive through the public land.

“It’s one of the most beautiful, scenic resources we have in this area,” Olivieri commented. She said conducting an industrial-use business inside public land is simply wrong. “It’s egregiously incompatible with everything that is happening in that area.”

Anderson said the parks department’s main concern is the project “is incompatible with state park uses. Also, I think it sets a bad precedent to approve industrial uses for Coldstream Canyon.”

Anderson said other factors were negative impacts on the Coldstream Canyon watershed, negative effects on the recovery of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and changes in the area from rural and park to commercial development zones.

Other opinions

Others have another opinion. “[Harvey] has had that property for a long time,” said Pat Davison, field agent for the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners. “We did not want to see state park expansion around private land.”

Larry Hahn, who owns nearly 60 acres in the area, said he thought it was great that Harvey’s project was approved. “I think [MAPF and state parks] are against it for all the wrong reasons. I’m happy for Harvey because he’s the one (in Coldstream Canyon) that’s able to develop his property the way he wants it,” he said.

Hahn, who has lived on his property for 10 years, added, “He went through a diligent, due process. I’m glad for him.”

Harvey was contacted, but would not comment on the issue.

What happens next

Once MAPF and California State Parks appeal the project, it will be handed to the Placer County Board of Supervisors for their Sept. 9 meeting at 9 a.m. at the Placer County Administrative Center in Auburn.

For more information on the plan and approval process, visit http://www.placer.ca.gov.