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Changes to Desert Area Conservation Plan approved

October 03, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The county Planning Department will act as the co-lead agency with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to amend the state's Desert Conservation Area Plan and conduct an environmental impact study for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.

Bureau documents state the management plan for the recreation area has been in place since 1987 and is outdated.

The changes follow three public meetings in September in Phoenix, San Diego and El Centro that the bureau staged to receive public input on changes to the recreation area.

According to the bureau's request documents, the update needs to include designation of the North Algodones Dunes as wilderness, changes in visitor use and the federal listing of Pierson's milk-vetch as a threatened species.

Pierson's milk-vetch is a silvery, short-lived perennial plant listed as an endangered species in 1998.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the bureau's request at its regular meeting Tuesday.

Also at the meeting, the board approved three resolutions that adopt Proposition 218 ballot procedures and set a public hearing for 10 a.m. Nov. 20 to determine the taxes for Gateway service plan area landowners.

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The resolutions were adopted specifically to set a water/sewer rate schedule, to cover maintenance and operation fees of the Gateway service area and to establish a fee that offsets the impact of traffic to the service area.

An engineer's report was prepared on all three resolutions. The report was sent to each landowner and is available for public review.

The public hearing will be in the Board of Supervisors chambers on the second floor of the County Administration Center at 940 Main St. in El Centro.

County Chief Executive Officer Ann Capela said ballots have been prepared and will be sent out. She said voting will close Nov. 20, the day of the public hearing.

As an emergency item, the county approved giving credit to Gateway landowners in the form of industrial acreage instead of dollar credits.

Assistant County Executive Robertta Burns said the landowners requested the acre credits as bring more fair. She said the fee credits increase about 3 percent a year due to inflation, making it more prudent to give acreage credits instead of dollar credits.

"This was one of our major hurdles," Gateway landowner Eric Rice said to the board. "Thank you for the action you have just taken."

In other action, the board:

· exchanged meeting dates of Oct. 29 for its committee of the whole, and Oct. 30 for the Board of Supervisors, in lieu of meetings canceled Nov. 26 and 27. The November meetings were canceled so supervisors can attend a statewide county government conference.

· approved a resolution in support of legislation on renewable energy power plants. Calipatria-based CalEnergy Operating Corp., which operates 10 geothermal plants in the Salton Sea area, requested assistance from the county to support the legislation.

· accepted $934,894 in public health grant money for the community access program.

Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or la_mitchel1@yahoo.com

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