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The Plumas County Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) unanimously approved a letter strongly recommending against the state building on one of the proposed new courthouse sites at a meeting Tuesday, Feb. 22.
The commission received correspondence from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) indicating the top three sites being considered: the Crescent site, practically right across Highway 70 from Gansner Field airport; the Waters site, located behind Chevron and adjacent to Dellinger Pond; and the Dame Shirley Plaza site.
ALUC Chairman George Terhune told his fellow commissioners the state was just looking for comments for now, but a formal application would almost certainly come before their board in the future.
He said the letter reported the Crescent site was in “probably the second most restrictive zone” in terms of areas affected by an airport.
Terhune explained that zone called for limiting “uses that would be high occupancy.”
He added that the AOC’s preliminary plans called for 135 parking spaces.
“I suppose that qualifies for a fairly high density use,” he added with a chuckle.
The chairman said the other two sites were in “the least limiting of the zones,” which “prohibit only outdoor stadiums and similar uses of very high intensities.”
“In my view the proposed uses are not in that class,” Terhune concluded.
He elaborated on the point, explaining Gansner Field had a “relatively low level of activity,” comprised mostly of small aircraft.
Terhune added that none of the preferred traffic patterns, takeoff directions or landing directions put the planes over the other two sites.
He said the letter concluded, “Based on the above factors we must strongly recommend against the Crescent Site but find no objection and no significant difference between the other two sites.
“While the Waters site is closer to the airport than the Dame Shirley site the very low level of hazard or noise at either site results in no significant difference of exposure.
“There is arguably a difference but it’s so minor in context as to not be a decisive factor.”
Terhune added, “It would probably be very unlikely,” that the commission would approve a project like a new courthouse on the Crescent site.
Planning Director Randy Wilson told the commissioners they were likely the only group involved with county planning that would have any say in the project, as the state was able to ignore county zoning completely.
The director said he didn’t even think the building would have to go through the local building permit process.
“Is there any reciprocity in that, so that we can ignore state regulations?” Commissioner B.J. Pearson asked with a laugh.
Pearson also commented that he thought the Waters site was a wetlands.
“You can also tell that I purposefully avoided too much of a comparison between the two remaining. Didn’t want to get into the politics,” Terhune responded.
Pearson and the other commissioners agreed and gave the letter their blessing.
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