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CITIZEN'S COMPLAINTS

MACE MEADOWS COMMUNITY LEACHFIELD

REASON FOR REVIEW

The Grand Jury received a complaint from a property owner against the Amador County Board of Supervisors, the Amador County Planning Commission and a specific member of each body.

  1. The complaint alleges poor and improper notice of the public hearing for a community leachfield, conflict of interest and possible financial gain of County officials.
  2. The complainant also alleges that the approval of the community leachfield by the Amador County Board of Supervisors has caused him and other property owners in the area of the community leachfield a large financial loss. Determining the possibility of economic loss to property owners is beyond the scope of the Grand Jury and therefore this issue will not be addressed.
  3. In addition, the complainant names a private citizen, employed by a private law firm that represents the developer, as having a conflict of interest because he was formerly employed by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. The Grand Jury is not empowered to investigate private citizens or agencies that are not physically located within the County and therefore will not address this allegation.

BACKGROUND

The developer of Fairway Pines (subdivision in the Mace Meadows/Pioneer Area) requested approval from the County for their proposal to provide additional off-site sewage disposal capacity for the Fairway Pines Subdivision under development. The area currently used for sewage disposal would continue to be used, however the golf course management no longer wants to use treated effluent to irrigate the course and has terminated it's agreement with the developers.

The site in question is a 40 acre parcel approximately 900 feet from the subdivision and will be used to provide additional acreage for sewage disposal and will be owned and maintained by the Amador Water Agency. This would result in an enlarged sewage capacity for the development.

METHODOLOGY

Members of the 1999-2000 Amador County Grand Jury conducted interviews, toured the leachfield site and reviewed pertinent documentation.

Persons interviewed:

  1. Complainant
  2. County Supervisor
  3. County Planning Commission member
  4. Amador County Service Area 1 and 2 Manager
  5. County Assessor
  6. Deputy Director of the Environmental Health Department
  7. Planning Department staff members
  8. California Regional Water Quality Control Board staff members

Documents examined:

  1. March 19, 1998 minutes of the Land Use and Community Development Committee.
  2. County Notice of Public Hearing to be held April 7, 1998, County Assessor's Map Bk. 23, Pg. 07 and listing of the persons that were mailed said notice.
  3. Summary minutes of the April 7, 1998 Public Hearing as conducted by the County Board of Supervisors.
  4. September 13, 1999 Draft of late revisions to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board Findings for the Mace Meadow Community leachfield.
  5. Written comments from a concerned property owner (other than the complainant) to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and their response to same.
  6. Resolution Order No. 99-132 and Waste Discharge Requirements Order No. 99-133 adopted by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley Region on September 17, 1999.
  7. Phase I Improvement Plans and Slope Stability Evaluation under cover letter dated January 3, 2000 from a private engineering firm.
  8. Wastewater Mainline Extension Agreement between the Amador Water Agency and Fairway/Glenmoor LLC.
  9. Various Amador Ledger Dispatch newspaper clippings.
  10. Complainant's allegations and petition to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board to withhold their approval of the community leachfield in question.
  11. Amador County Supervisor's reply to the personal allegations in "10" above.
  12. Planning Commission member's reply to the personal allegations in "10" above.

Other sources:

  1. Mace Meadows Property Owner's Association, Board of Directors meeting of February 16, 2000 and minutes of same.
  2. Internet (California Regional Water Quality Control Board website).

FACTS

  1. The developer's request for approval of the leachfield site was referred to the County Land Use Committee for review and recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. On March 19, 1998, the Land Use Committee recommended the Board of Supervisors find that:
  2. Notice of a public hearing held on April 7, 1998 to address the matter of the community leachfield was mailed to neighboring property owners including the complainant. This notice states:
  3. The complainant did not appear in person at the public hearing nor submit his comments/concerns in writing.
  4. The leachfield in question does not fall within the area of responsibility of the Amador County Planning Commission and was not addressed by that body. The Planning Commission addresses issue of: changes to zoning ordinance and zoning maps, changes to the general plan, land and subdivision changes, variances, etc.
  5. The County Supervisor in question admits to having a financial interest in the Fairway Pines II development.
  6. The County Supervisor is also a member of the County Land Use and Community Development Committee. When the subject of the leachfield was being addressed at the County Land Use and Community Development Committee meeting of march 19, 1998, the supervisor left the meeting. At the public hearing of April 7, 1998, he stepped down and handed the gavel to the Vice Chairman.
  7. The California Regional Water Quality Control Board's adoption of Resolution Order No. 99-132 and Waste Discharge Requirement Order No. 99-133 for the Mace Meadow Community Leachfield, Mace Meadows Estate, Inc., Fairway/Glenmoor LLC, Amador Water Agency and Amador County sets forth the minimum requirements for the facility, the monitoring of the septic tank, pump station, collection system, designated disposal area, ground water and Misery Creek. In addition, it sets forth the method and procedure for reports of violations to the orders.
  8. The Amador Water Agency has signed an agreement with the developer that meets the requirements as outlined in "7" above and will become the owner and maintenance agency for this waste collection and discharge system.

CONCLUSIONS

The Grand Jury's investigation and findings did not support the complainant's allegations:

  1. As explained in Facts 1 and 2, proper notice of public hearing was given.
  2. No evidence was found to support allegations of financial gain by public officials.

RECOMMENDATIONS

None. No response is necessary


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