Sometimes the vagaries of county government even can confuse folks who attend and participate in a meeting – and maybe even the decision-makers themselves.
A curious case in point – The Tuesday, Oct. 2 Lassen County Planning Commission meeting where an application for a meteorological tower on private land was up for approval.
Opponents of Invenergy’s Horse Lake Wind Farm project claim they won a round at the meeting because the commission failed to approve the permit application.
According to a press release written by John Kegg of the Eagle Lake Regional Preservation Coalition, a citizen’s group that opposes the development of wind power in Lassen County, the score is now “home team 1, windmills 0” because the commission “voted to reject the project.”
But Matt Giblin, the project manager for Invenergy’s proposed Horse Lake Wind project, said the permit application is still before the commission.
Maury Anderson, Lassen County’s chief planner, said he understands the confusion and why each side has a different perspective about exactly what occurred at the meeting. According to Anderson, the commission “essentially took no action” on the permit application.
Anderson explained what happened at the meeting.
He said the commission held a public hearing and took testimony – both for and against – a use permit application for a meteorological tower to be built on private property owned by Joe Ochoterena. According to the application, the property is located on the north side of Fredonyer Peak (north of a fire observation facility) about four miles east of Highway 139 and about 20 miles north of Susanville.
After taking testimony the commission closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Mark Totten then made a motion to approve the permit. When no other commissioner would second the motion, commission chair Aaron Albaugh vacated the chair’s seat to commissioner Rick Stewart. Albaugh then seconded the motion, and the commissioners discussed it. When the motion to approve the permit came up for a vote, it failed 3-2. And there’s the rub.
Anderson said while none of the other commissioners apparently wanted to approve the permit application, the commission did not make and carry a motion to disapprove it before moving on to other business.
Anderson said the planning commission normally takes one of three actions on a permit application. It can approve the permit, disapprove the permit or approve the permit with conditions. But a failed motion not to approve a permit is not the same as a motion to disapprove it, Anderson said, leaving the application in a “sort of in limbo.”
He said the commission could hold a special meeting to take action or place the permit on the agenda of its next meeting. At deadline, he said the commission has not decided how to proceed yet.
16 October 2007
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