Transfer station back on track

July 07, 2003 11:00 pm

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Plans for a transfer station are back on track, apparently, after the California Coastal Commission withdrew its appeal of the project last week.

"If it's true, and anything can happen, this is really good news," said Kevin Hendrick, director of the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority. "We're thanking everybody. Both friends and politicians came to our aid."

The appeal, filed on June 18 by commissioners Christina Desser and Patrick Kruer, would have blocked construction of the transfer station. It was withdrawn last week, according to the Commission's Web page.

The Commission said it filed the appeal because the county did not provide enough information about how construction and operation of the proposed transfer station would disturb nearby wetlands.

The transfer station will replace the county landfill, which will reach capacity and close next year. It is set up to sort trash and ship it to distant landfills.

The proposed site is at the intersection of Elk Valley Road and State Street.

A property owned by Hambro Forest Products was the first location considered, but the usable land area proved to be too small when wetlands were taken into consideration. The current landfill was deemed a poor location because it is too close to wetlands.

The appeal was to be heard on July 10 at the Coastal Commission North Region meeting in Petaluma. Hendrick said he will still attend the meeting to make sure the Commission has all its questions answered.

Solid waste officials said they were angered by the appeal, because they had kept the Commission informed of all studies of the transfer station site.

Hendrick said environmental advocates, state and county politicians and many others contacted the Commission after it announced its appeal.

"We had been exerting some political pressure on them to either withdraw the appeal or to give us a hearing. I think the result of that was we got on (the Commission's) radar," said Hendrick.

The Commission said it would be willing to withdraw the appeal if the solid waste authority altered its site plan. Hendrick said the modifications appear minor and can be made.

Letters and telephone calls from State Senator Sam Aanestad, Assemblymember Patty Berg, Congressman Mike Thompson, the Friends of Del Norte and wildlife biologist Jeff Dayton from the California Department of Fish and Game probably created some of the pressure on the Commission, Hendrick speculated.

"I find it disturbing that after 12 months of delineation and planning on this particular site, and working with the county on this project, the Commission has now taken a position to appeal the project due to concerns," Aanestad wrote on June 30.