NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Streets of Gold Once More

I went to the Grass Valley City Council meeting tonight, to find out more about the Economic Viability of the Idaho-Maryland Mine being reopened. All but a few seats were full when I arrived. According to the study by Bay Area Economic opening the mine is viable, with, or without the ceramic processing plant.

I also discovered the permitting process “is not going to be easy,” according to Lisa Swarthout a Council Member. She almost made it sound like a threat. Another Council member, Dean Williams want to kill the project straight way by requiring the Council to follow the existing zoning of Business Park and Medium Density Housing in the General Plan. The 101 acres would have to be rezoned to Manufacturing for the mine to open. Council Woman Patti Ingram pointed out the land to be rezoned had been a mine dump, and was not suited to Business Park or Home development without extensive cleanup, which would increase the cost of any development. Mark Johnson, was also interested in resolving circulation problems on Centennial Way and rezoning issues before granting any permits. Mayor Tassone was concerned about the environmental issues, which will be covered in the EIR.

Multiple people addressed the Council in support of the mine and the jobs it will bring to the community. Not just the projected 400 jobs, but also the support jobs which will be created. One speaker estimated the multiplier was between 7 to 12 times, that is 2,800 to 4,800 total jobs. Another pointed out that these are jobs that cannot be outsourced overseas. Many speakers received rounds of applause, much to the consternation of the Mayor. Only one speaker, representing Grass Valley Neighbors, challenged the mine development. No applause for him.

In the end, the Council voted to accept the Economic Viability Study and start the process to develop a Master Environmental Assessment, hire the consultants to help with the process including an Environmental Impact Report request for proposal. It will take another two years before any final decisions are made, with multiple public meetings built into the process for the monkey wrench throwers to muck up the works. Lots of blogging opportunities over the next two years.

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