Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Supes will not extend moratorium
People crowd the hallway of the county Courthouse on Tuesday waiting to air their views on whether the supervisors should extend the moratorium on construction on timber production zone land. Daniel Solomon/The Eureka Reporter
ER Supes will not extend moratorium
Tuesday afternoon saw several hours of public testimony for and against Humboldt County Supervisors extending an interim ordinance suspending building permits on timber production zone land.
After the approximately 80 speakers had finished, Pacific Lumber Co. President and Chief Executive Officer George O’Brien took the podium at Supervisor Jill Geist’s invitation.
Geist had, along with Supervisor Bonnie Neely, introduced the interim ordinance Oct. 9 that was passed with Roger Rodoni dissenting.
On Tuesday after 7 p.m., the supervisors voted 4-1 (Roger Rodoni dissenting again) to lift the moratorium. Rodoni said he disagreed with the additional motion elements.
Supervisor Jimmy Smith had said he’d like a task force, a consideration for “hardships,” a letter sent to the Texas bankruptcy court and to get better informed about the Habitat Conservation Plan as it pertains to timberlands, including PALCO’s.
Geist registered her concern over a task force, as did other supervisors, and with Smith’s OK she made a new motion that reflected Smith’s, but did so without the task force.
While O’Brien had been in front of the room, Geist’s first question to him was if PALCO was still intending to go forward with the “Redwood Ranch Development” project, which, she said, had brought them to where they were with this moratorium.
As part of its bankruptcy reorganization plan, PALCO has included a high-end residential development — the sale of 21,800 acres of second-growth, commercial timberland for 136 residential parcels to be known as “Redwood Ranch.”
“It’s not a project that has ever been proposed to you,” he said.
He told the supervisors PALCO is currently in mediation with its creditors. He said Redwood Ranch could not become an official development for years.
He did say the development was being viewed as a whole project, not just single homes.
“We’ll be complying with whatever the regulations are at that point in time,” he said.
O’Brien categorized the “concept” as a “working forest” and “eco-friendly.”
As previously reported in The Eureka Reporter, there has been much debate about whether houses are compatible with timber management on said TPZ parcels.
Humboldt County Community Development Services Director Kirk Girard said the “single question” going before the Forestry Review Committee when it takes up the TPZ ordinance today at its 7 p.m. meeting is “when is a house necessary to timber management?”
“We’ve heard the community,” Geist told O’Brien. “There is not one of us that disagrees on the importance of those timberlands for their resource value.”
“It is the lifeblood of our company,” O’Brien countered.
Some speakers had said they felt the supervisors were “punishing” small landowners to send a message to PALCO. Some said it felt like the county was set to “take” their land.
“The community at large does not trust PALCO,” Geist said. “The community at large does not trust the Board of Supervisors.”
She inquired how these two parties can begin to work together.
“I think one of the ways is dialogue and transparency,” O’Brien said.
TS Timber zone building ban will run out
Ignoring all the individual people who got up to speak about how they were being impacted by this decision, the insensitivity award goes to Diane Beck with the North Coast Chapter of the Sierra Club said opponents of the moratorium had engaged in misinformation and bullying, and were using hyperbole when claiming that they wanted to protect the rural way of life.
”Oh, please,” Beck said. “Since when have mini-kingdoms on TPZ lands been part of our rural culture?”
Uh, Diane, long before subdivisions became the norm.
A number of speakers said they'd been caught up with Palco in an ordinance that threatened their property rights.
Rancher Sally French said the environmental community had overstepped its bounds, and so had the supervisors in proposing the moratorium.
”Is this fair?” French asked. “No, of course not, but it seems that all is fair in love -- and war with PL.”