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LAFCo votes for Feather River Inn annexation

Linda Satchwell
Staff Writer
3/24/2010


The Plumas County Local Agency Formation Commission voted at its March 15 meeting to approve the "annexation of the Feather River Inn property to the Graeagle Fire Protection District, subject to specified terms and conditions."

The 4 - 1 vote came after an extended series of questions from public member Jim Krantz, who wanted to understand the details of the agreement that would be worked out between the fire district and inn owners, the Schomac Group, LLC.
LAFCo Executive Officer John Benoit and chairman Robert Meacher tried repeatedly to explain to Krantz that the commission's initial approval was needed for the fire district and Feather River Inn to complete their negotiations.

"It's a chicken and egg thing," said Meacher, but Krantz remained unconvinced.

Benoit also explained the petition filed by High Sierra Rural Alliance in Plumas County Superior Court against the project would have to be resolved before LAFCo would file a Certificate of Completion.

John Scaborski, representing Graeagle Fire District, reported his agency had drafted an agreement with the Schomac Group requiring a "substantial" water storage tank, the purchase of an engine (which Schomac has already done), a heated engine bay and staffing.

Krantz said he feared area homeowners might be left financially responsible if the Feather River Inn project ever fell apart like Gold Mountain did.

Benoit pointed out Gold Mountain had a private homeowner association in charge, rather than a public entity such as the Graeagle Fire District. Still, Krantz said he wanted something "written in blood" before he'd vote in favor of the resolution. As there was no blood letting, his was the single no vote.

Benoit did take up Krantz's concerns in a contiguous matter, however, when he anticipated the possibility the Feather River Inn might come back before LAFCo when it comes time to deal with wastewater from the project.

Feather River Inn's phase two involves the construction of 114 new units on the property, and "there is no wastewater district out there," Benoit said.

Even though the wastewater question wasn't on the table at this meeting, Benoit said he'd normally prefer to deal with both issues concurrently, since there is a concern within LAFCo regarding "disjointed growth and disjointed services."

In this case, however, if the commission waited until phase two units were completed, the environmental impact report for the project would be out of date. In addition, since the property already contains the old inn and outbuildings, as well as a number of partially completed new structures, fire protection is something that cannot be ignored.

Benoit cautioned that the state is becoming increasingly strict in ruling against private homeowner associations overseeing services such as wastewater, though nearby Whitehawk Ranch was cited as an example of a properly functioning homeowner association.

Benoit said repeatedly that Feather River Inn "will probably be back to us" when it comes time to consider wastewater.
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