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Full EIR Urged for C.V. City Plan: LAFCO Postpones Decision Until Later in the Year

Monterey Herald, 2005



By LARRY PARSONS
Herald Staff Writer

Foes of cityhood for Carmel Valley urged county government commissioners Monday to require a full-blown environmental impact report on the move to create Monterey County's 13th city.

But supporters of the proposed town of Carmel Valley told members of the Local Agency Formation Commission that a full EIR isn't needed because the move -- if approved by voters -- wouldn't cause any significant environmental impacts.

Commissioners delayed their decision until Dec. 6 at least, but agreed to extend the public comment period on the initial environmental review of the proposed Carmel Valley incorporation until Nov. 15.

If LAFCO members give the go-ahead to put incorporation before Carmel Valley voters, the timing of the election would be affected by their decision on the need for an EIR.

Agency executive Kate McKenna said if commissioners decide only a "negative declaration" -- a finding that incorporation poses no significant environmental impacts -- is needed, the vote on the future governance of Carmel Valley could be held by November 2006.

Preparing an EIR would push back an election date considerably, she said.

"We want to keep this moving along. We've been working on it for six years," said Max Chaplin of Carmel Valley Forum, the group pushing to incorporate Carmel Valley.

But Lawrence Samuels, an opponent, told LAFCO commissioners that an EIR is needed because Carmel Valley is a very sensitive environmental area.

The proposed boundary of the town would follow the 28,000-acre Carmel Valley Master Plan area, which runs from Highway 1 east to Carmel Valley Village and from ridgetop to ridgetop, north to south.

The incorporation campaign was started by Carmel Valley Forum, whose members contend cityhood would give residents direct control over land-use decisions now left to the county Board of Supervisors.

But opponents, who formed a group called Save the Valley -- No City, contend the new city would be financially precarious and barely able to provide basic municipal services.

LAFCO members ordered an initial environmental review on proposed cityhood over the protests of proponents who argued against requiring a detailed study.

The initial environmental study and draft service plan were unveiled Monday. Also proceeding are fiscal negotiations between Monterey County officials and incorporation proponents. Wrapping up those talks may take several more months, McKenna said.

The draft service plan says cityhood would affect several agencies and districts that now provide fire, recreation and community services. But incorporation wouldn't affect the Carmel Valley Recreation and Park District, Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District, Carmel Area Wastewater District or Santa Lucia Community Services District, the plan said.

As for potential environmental ramifications, a LAFCO consultant said incorporating Carmel Valley wouldn't pose significant environmental impacts.

But Bob Sinotte of Save the Valley said the new city would be increasingly dependent on tourism for money and that would create more traffic and other environmental impacts.

Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or lparsons@montereyherald.com.



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