Land use proposals in the Ione area

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This year, Amador County has been reviewing two proposals affecting large areas of land around Ione. One is a proposal for the Pilgrim Rock Quarry off Highway 16 near the Sacramento County line that would operate for 40 years. The Planning Department determined that the project needs a full environmental impact report, the most extensive form of review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The county plans to schedule a special “scoping” meeting for this proposed project in the future to hear concerns from agencies, local residents, tribes and other interested parties. The property is habitat for rare Ione plant species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The other project, proposed by Edwin Lands LLC, is to rezone 1,150 acres of the former Rancho Arroyo Seco that is currently used for grazing, to M-X, manufacturing zoning with an overlay. Because of the X overlay (which we believe is not allowed under the county’s 2016 general plan), the county is deferring environmental evaluation to future project applications. (The X overlay requires a conditional use permit or all future projects.) This is problematic for any number of reasons, including that a project-by-project environmental review will not include cumulative impact analyses for water, traffic, air quality, noise, lighting, or any of the other potential significant impacts of projects that can be developed in the M zone district.

The Edwin Lands proposal is in the Cosumnes Groundwater Subbasin, which has an annual groundwater overdraft of 10,000 acre feet, yet county staff have concluded that there will be “no impact “from additional groundwater wells anticipated for the project. To help the county better understand the groundwater situation, we will soon bring a recent, related technical memorandum to the county’s attention.

In the absence of any development proposal at this time, we can only assume that the property owners are doing this for land speculation purposes and may intend to sell off chunks of this large area to be developed by others. According to the general plan, this area is supposed to provide 40 percent of all industrial jobs in the unincorporated area of the county in the future. By approving a zoning change now, in the absence of a development proposal, not only will the future environmental analysis be weakened, but the county risks losing the opportunity to plan appropriate infrastructure and services to make a future industrial park in this area successful.

For more information on these projects, contact fhc@foothillconservancy.org

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