Rezone outside Ione raises concerns
Amador County planners are currently reviewing a proposal to rezone more than 1,150 acres of land outside Ione near Michigan Bar Road from R1-A (residential/agricultural), to M (manufacturing). The county correctly claims that the rezoning is required to bring the lands into compliance with their new general plan designation. However, we disagree that the rezoning can take place without comprehensive, site-specific review of the land (the county wants to rely on the general plan environmental review). We also believe that since there is no project proposed for the lands, the county must use the worst-case scenario in its environmental review.
The site is close to working ranches and homes, upwind of Mule Creek State Prison, Castle Oaks and the city of Ione. M zoning allows a number of land uses without a conditional use permit, including mineral processing, which can create a great deal of traffic along with dust and noise.
We made the following comments on the project in an August 14 letter to the Amador County Planning Commission:
“Manufacturing zoning allows projects that could adversely impact the community, natural and cultural resources. All potential site-specific impacts must be studied and mitigated before any change is approved. The categorical exemption cited by the Planning Department staff specifies that the when land is being rezoned for consistency with the general plan, further environmental review may be required to evaluate site-specific impacts.
“We believe this project could have potential, site-specific significant impacts to:
- Water use
- Water quality
- Biological resources
- Cultural resources
- Air quality
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Cumulative environmental effects
“The general level of review in the general plan EIR is not adequate to evaluate the impacts of rezoning this specific 1,150 acres of land. If the rezone is approved without proper environmental review, that action would make any number of uses of the property permissible by right without a conditional use permit or further mitigation.”
Earlier we had suggested that the county do a specific plan for the site.
We stand by these comments and invite all of you to attend the September 11, 2018, commission meeting at which this project will be discussed. Since the general plan mitigations largely rely on site-specific analysis, it’s very important that the county do this right. The meeting will be held at the Amador County Administration Center, 810 Court St., Jackson, beginning at 7 p.m.