What I was told by Karen Diemer, head of Environmental Services, was that the fats discharge limit is written a as a strict "shall not" that violated their industrial grade discharge permit, and that the fines are not designed to recoup the costs. Instead the fine has become a small business expense that Cypress Grove has paid every year since they opened the plant in 2001.
Personally, I think it is not an appropriate regulatory practice to decline to enforce water pollution laws with an industrial manufacturer. 12 years of non-compliance for a successful business is morally wrong and apparently illegal based on statute and symbolic fines. I'm glad for the the supportive business environment in Arcata, but 12 years is too long.
It seems that this reporting can set our mind at ease about fats clogging our sewer pipes. When I inquired with Environmental Services a year ago about Cypress Grove's fines for water pollution, fat in the pipes wasn't mentioned as a concern, but rather the cost of extra treatment at the plant--fats require the City to add more oxygen, which costs money. Cypress Grove has broken Arcata's water discharge laws and paid fines every year since 2001 to the City of Arcata Environmental Services. Unfortunately the fines are set by statute rather cost-recovery, so the City's other rate payers are paying for the cost of extra treatment.
I don't mean to imply that it's wrong to subsidize a business, and the City is rightly proud of the supportive environment it creates for business and local jobs. But if our statutory prohibitions against water pollution are actually "pay to pollute," let's set the price tag for the pollution equal to the cost of treatment. Otherwise, treat Cypress Grove/EMMI like the deep pocketed multinational corporation it is and make them clean up their wastewater, pronto.
If STAA trucks can't go through the grove now, it's not a "red herring" to say that widening the road will increase STAA traffic. The judge should read up on his logical fallacies.
There seems to be a misunderstanding about what is principally permitted in Ag General zoning. When I read the zoning ordinance, I see the words "feed lot" as a Conditional Use, requiring a Conditional Use Permit. I've asked the agencies that regulate Cypress Grove's farming land use--the Division Chief, Matt St. John at the Water Board, and the Kirk Girard HumCo Planning Department. Mr. Girard is relying on a 1995 Board of Supervisors decision that a (now failed) dairy that relies of confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) still is regulated as a dairy, not as a dry feed lot. So he determined that 1 acre confinement feeding operation goat barn is a CEQA-exempt agricultural accessory structure.
But Water Board Division Chief St. John determined that the proposed 1400 goats CAFO did require CEQA, and that a discretionary permit would be required to operate the facility.
I can see why it was fair to accuse me of NIMBYism back when the project was in my back yard, but after a year of researching permitting, definitions, legal code, talking with staff, etc. ...well, that's not what a NIMBY looks like. That's what I call environmental activism.
Reasonable people should understand that there are significant environmental pollution issues that remain unstudied and unaddressed. If someone proposed building a sewage treatment plant for 4700 people's worth of feces, there would be an EIR. But 4700 people's worth of feces, coming from a one acre building of confined ("loafing") goats is CEQA exempt in the County. That's not right. And at the Water Board has the independece to do something that our politically riven Planning Department cannot.
Did you know that the Plaza is an acre, the same size as the proposed Cypress Grove feedlot? I'm a developer, and I'm going to ask the City to use the Plaza to help end homelessness by creating a year-round homeless encampment of 1400 people on the Plaza.
I can't afford port-a-potties, let alone the sewer hook-up fees, because I'm running a marginal business of housing the homeless. So I've decided to use SB 1818, the Anti-Nimby Act, to overrule neighborhood objections to my sewage treatment plan-- three 36' tall piles of poop and wood shavings, about the size of the Hotel Arcata and the Jacoby Storehouse combined. In fact, that's what I plan to do--use a bulldozer to shove all that crap into a couple of the nicest buildings in Arcata. And you can't stop me, because I've got the Law on my side, or at least enough to get my building permit.
Oh shush you historical preservationists! The Plaza was once a pasture for the pack trains, so packing in the homeless is consistent with the zoning. And stop complaining about losing business Arcata Main Street, this is bringing 8 jobs to the downtown! And it's going to bring urban-planning tourists to Arcata, to marvel at our creative, innovative, never-seen-before homeless encampment with piles of poop 36 feet tall! TRUST ME, I know what I'm doing!
Wow. You guys object? How dare you question my wisdom? I'm wounded. This would have been great. Obviously the Plaza is ruined for public use! Just goes to show what a bunch of hypocrites you are. Always wanting affordable housing until it's in your back yard.
In Print This Week:
Dec 5, 2013
vol XXIV issue 49
The North Coast Journal Weekly
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