City to expand waste transfer facility
Move will reduce use of county landfills
An expansion of the city’s waste transfer facility at the corporation yard was approved by the City Council Tuesday night, but not without a small hiccup.
The project will expand the city’s waste transfer facility to handle 50 tons more (for a total of 150 tons) recycle or green waste materials than it presently handles.
According to Baldomero Rodriguez, Public Works director, the city has been working to make the change for a while, but held off making the final decision to create the amendment when rumors began to circulate about the increase in the county’s tipping fees and the reduction of operation hours at the Teapot Dome landfill where the city delivers its refuse.
Last month, the Board of Supervisors both reduced the hours at the Teapot Dome landfill and increase dumping fees. That prompted Rodriguez to move forward with the amendment, which should help the city by offsetting the amount of waste that would need to be dumped in a landfill.
The hiccup came in the form of the wording of the amendment, which states that the project is exempt from an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act because of a particular code. Staff caught and made the council aware that the amendment was, in fact, exempt but because of a completely different regulation code, but this mistake was caught only after the council passed the amendment. Because of this, the city council was forced to go back, vote to rescind its earlier decision, and reopen the public hearing for a minute before closing it again and creating a new motion that would accept the amendment, with a revision to the language that states the code under which the amendment is exempt. This new motion was passed unanimously.
The council approved city manager John Lollis’ plans to reorganize the Parks and Leisure Services Department, but with Council member Greg Shelton casting the negative vote.
While both Shelton and Council member Brian Ward raised concerns about the reorganization, it was pointed out that because of an awareness of retirements in Parks and Leisure, the city had planned to reorganize the department and make use of these vacant positions to save the city money, a plan which was discussed and adopted in with the adoption of the current year’s budget.
The plan still calls for a director of the department, but eliminates two positions.
Mayor Virginia Gurrola, Ward and Shelton all raised some questions about plans for a new subdivision near Summit Charter Academy, Ward specifically asking as to how close it was to a park. However, it was pointed out that this subdivision was an experiment to test the new ordinance, which allows for the existence of the project because of its proximity to Summit Charter Academy.
Ward was still concerned about how accessible the playground equipment for Summit would be, considering it could only be utilized after school hours. However, after suggesting that the city consider “pocket parks” in the future, Ward voted in agreement with the rest of the council, which was to unanimously accept the permit and subdivision map.
Other matters included accepting the environmental review of the Jaye Street/Montgomery Avenue Roundabout project. Shelton asked if much had been said about the project to city staff, and Rodriguez answered that so far nothing really had been said. The public comments section before the meeting did see one resident providing the council with photographs to help point out how the current street layout was unsafe, but the woman, who lives on Jaye Street right as it splits into Jaye and the Montgomery turn, did not directly speak in favor or against a roundabout.
The council also authorized the creation of a Porterville Transit Advisory Committee.
Porterville Transit Manager Richard Tree proposed the creation of the committee, which he would sit on voluntarily, so that he could have more community input into the transit system.
His suggestion was a seven-person body with two representative’s for the elderly and two for the disabled, and three for the general public. The council’s concerns were on the demographics of the committee and how it would match up with the actual demographics of those using Porterville transit.
There was also some concern of cost, but Tree said that it would be negligable, with the main costs concerning the creation and distribution of agendas and meeting minutes, and that this would be handled by the transit department. His time would be voluntary to keep the cost down.
In the end, the council decided that the committee itself was a good idea, but approved the creation of it contingent that part of the membership represent each user group, elderly, disabled, young and general user.
During scheduled matters, the council unanimously approved Ordinance 1792, a municipal code which would effectively remove the council’s existing adjournment time, allowing the council to automatically move through the meeting without pausing to approve to extend it, after a second reading of the ordinance.