Public weighs in on general plan
Coleen Shade, far right, a consultant who is helping Plumas County with its general plan, talks to members of the Planning Commission. From left: Commissioners Mark Dotta and John Olofson, Chairwoman Betsy Schramel, Larry Williams, Senior Planner Becky Herrin and Planning Director Randy Wilson. Photo by Debra Moore
Comment period extended to Jan. 11
About two dozen people showed up to comment on Plumas County’s new general plan update and its associated draft environmental impact report during a planning commission meeting Dec. 13, with many asking for more time to study the document and provide their input.
The comment deadline had been set for Jan. 3, but due to the holidays and a delayed public notice, both private citizens and government agencies asked for an extension.
Planning Director Randy Wilson agreed and on Dec. 17 announced that now the public has until Friday, Jan. 11 to submit comments.
During last week’s public meeting, a number of citizens verbally made comments, while agencies such as CalFire and the U.S. Forest Service will submit their comments in writing. Members of the public have the same opportunity.
The 641-page document is available online at countyofplumas.com; on CD by request through the planning department; or as a hard copy at each of the Plumas County Library branches.
This version of the county’s general plan is expected to be the blueprint for land use through 2035. The project is in its seventh year and county supervisors are anxious to implement it.
“This was a priority for Terry Swofford and I when we were elected in 2009,” Supervisor Lori Simpson said. Now both have been elected to second terms.
“I am committed to getting this finished,” she said.
But the end is near. Once all of the comments — oral and written — have been received, they will be added to the document along with responses to those comments.
As audience members spoke out last week, Coleen Shade, a principal planner for RO Anderson, and formerly of Design Workshop, the county’s consultant, took notes on a flip chart.
Indian Valley resident Todd Anderson, who uses many public forums to advocate for private water rights, also addressed the issue with regard to the general plan.
He said that any mention of water was missing from several areas where it could be addressed, including land use, agriculture and forestry.
“Water industry could be created in Plumas County,” Anderson said, citing case law from 1961.
Quincy resident George Terhune noted that the documents didn’t address private airstrips.
Terhune said that earlier this year a Sierra Valley resident “scraped out a runway on his land.” Though there are state and federal regulations, he said that there is “nothing in the current county codes to handle that situation.”
Without any official direction, Terhune said that there were two schools of thought: that it was “automatically prohibited or, that the county should, as a matter of due process, provide individual opportunity in certain circumstances.”
Terhune said he leaned toward the latter because a private airstrip “might make sense for someone who is very remote,” and not near an existing airport.
Planning Commission Chairwoman Betsy Schramel asked Terhune if this would apply to heliports as well.
“Yes,” Terhune said, “but it’s a little more complicated.”
Terhune plans to research that issue more and will provide written comments on both topics.
Harry Reeves, representing Plumas Audubon as well as himself, first complimented those involved with the process.
“I am particularly impressed with the good job you have done looking at alternatives,” he said.
But Reeves described the report as “soft on some items, particularly water.”
He said the Audubon would submit specific comments, but said, “The most important thing is basically this a good general plan. Let’s keep it going.”
Sierra Nevada Alliance
Craig Breon, of the Sierra Nevada Alliance, said he was “pleased with the process,” but said there were three areas to discuss: ensuring no future development on agriculture preserve zones; defining secondary uses for agricultural land; and protecting areas such as ridgelines and wetlands in future development.
Heather Kingdon, of Indian Valley, said that it’s important to “protect water rights that go with property rights.”
Kingdon expressed concern about the future of the valley and worries that too many rules stifle a property owner’s ability to earn a living off of his or her land.
“Regulations are killing us,” she said.