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Critics of Redwood Landfil Plan Hit Snag

June 21, 2008

By Richard Halstead, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

Jun. 21–Opponents of a plan to extend the life and capacity of the Redwood Landfill in Novato are attempting to appeal certification of an environmental impact report to the Board of Supervisors, but they say they’ve been told they have no right to appeal.

Under the plan evaluated in the environmental report, the landfill’s owner, Houston-based Waste Management Inc., would shift its emphasis from waste disposal to recycling waste and would be granted a 6-million-cubic-yard boost in its total capacity, to 25 million cubic yards.

The plan is controversial, however, because the landfill is surrounded on three sides by the Petaluma River, San Antonio Creek and other wetlands that lead into San Francisco Bay.

The Marin County Planning Commission deemed the environmental plan complete after two grueling days of public hearings in May. Under state law, it was up to the county’s environmental health services director, Phil Smith, to certify the plan, and he did on June 10.

No Wetland Landfill Expansion, an unincorporated association of residents from Marin and Sonoma counties, is appealing the certification, citing 16 inadequacies in the plan. These include: failing to analyze the impact on groundwater, failing to analyze cumulative greenhouse gas emission effects, failing to adequately analyze the seismic stability of the landfill and failing to consider a no-project alternative.

“State law mandates that when an unelected body certifies an EIR, that decision may be appealed to

that agency’s elected decision-making body,” said Bruce Baum, one of the founders of the No Wetland group.

But Baum said county officials have told his organization it has no right to appeal. Nancy Grisham, the county attorney assigned to the issue, could not be reached for comment.

Regardless of what happens with the environmental impact report, Smith must decide whether to grant the dump a new solid waste facilities permit. Smith plans to hold at least one more public hearing before making that decision, which in turn must be ratified by the state Integrated Waste Management Board. If the Integrated Waste Management Board ratifies the permit, Baum said its decision also would be appealable to a subset of the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Charles McGlashan said he isn’t sure if his board could hear an appeal on the certification of the environmental report, but confirmed that several supervisors could review ratification of the permit.

“We’re not allowed to hear it as an entire board,” he said.

McGlashan said supervisors would most likely send the matter to an administrative law judge. “The board is not going to put just a couple members in that position,” he said.

workshop set

A public workshop on the Redwood Landfill permit will be conducted by county supervisors Judy Arnold and Susan Adams from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Oaks Room at the Best Western Novato Oaks Inn, 215 Alameda Del Prado, in Novato. No final action will be taken on the permit at that workshop.

Read more Novato stories at the IJ’s Novato section.

Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at rhalstead@marinij.com

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

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