Supervisors Continue Rule 310 Fee Plan Despite Fuentes Objections
By Mario Conde
After a lengthy discussion by the County Board of Supervisors, the board approved the continuance of the 50% reduction in Rule 310 Operational Development Fees.
In an item brought up by Air Pollution Control Manager, Brad Poiriez, said that Imperial County has been designated as “Serious” for dust contamination. The adoption of the Operation Development Fees in 2007 was to provide a means to attain health-based ambient air quality and to protect the residents of Imperial County from harmful effects of poor air quality in the future.
Poiriez said that this will allow the Air Pollution Control District to maintain a program that ensures that acceptable levels of emission reductions are met and mitigations are enforced. The continuance of Rule 310 is also requested because of the current economic crisis in the Imperial Valley the housing and commercial development markets have decrease substantially. As a result,Poiriez, said, there is a lessening need for some mitigation measures to be implemented immediately. The Air Pollution Control District considers mitigation of air quality impacts both new and in the future to be the utmost importance and therefore recommends that nay reduction in the fee be on a temporary basis.
Supervisor Louis Fuentes said that people from the private sector approached him and said to be concerned with this 50% reduction and said that in order to grab more investments to the County, they need to have attractive benefits.
Fuentes made a motion to change the language of the ordinance by changing it to 75% and extend the 310 Rule until 2011. County Counsel Michael Rood suggested staff put more input since there would be legal ramifications and could be challenged in a court of law buy other outside agencies. Supervisor Gary Wyatt said that by voting to reducing it 75% would cripple the 310 rule that was considered and built after a long consideration from the County Board for many years.
Supervisor Mike Kelley asked County Counsel why there would be lawsuit if the ordinance is changed. Rood said that there would be various legal issues could be raised and could be uphold in court.
County Planning Director Jurg Hueberger asked the council to think about the action they are about to take because if they changed the rules of the game right now they would have to return several EIR’s that are about to be finished so they can do it again.
“I would hate to return it to the applicant when we are almost finished. We can’t change the rules right now. You could jeopardize some projects if you do so.” The planning director said.
Fuentes argued that the rules of the economy have changed and they need to change as well to bring new investment to the County. He said he is willing to take the private sector and start a dialogue between them and County Staff. Fuentes said that there needs to be a balanced fee for builders that make a commercial subdivision or a large warehouse. He amended his motion to keep the 75% and keep it for 2010 only. The board voted against Fuentes’ request 3-2 having only Fuentes and Kelley voting in Favor.
Supervisor Wyatt asked Poiriez when is this 310 rule going to expire. He said the ordinance will expired February 3, 2010. After some deliberation, the board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the original ordinance until June 30, 2010 and gave direction to staff to hire a consultant as a third party.