On Nov. 15, San Luis Obispo County Supervisors did exactly what they hinted at about a month ago, approving a green waste processing facility near the SLO County Airport despite some neighbors’ opposition to it.
Land-use attorney Babak Naficy spoke on behalf of residents who appealed the SLO County Planning Commission’s Aug. 25 approval of the project, which is an indoor anaerobic digestion plant that would take green waste from the county’s Waste Connections customers, process it, and turn it into electricity at a site already owned and used by Waste Connections on Old Santa Fe Road. Naficy reiterated what opponents to the project site had said at the October hearing: The project needs an environmental impact report (EIR).
The county Planning Department gave the anaerobic digestion plans a negative declaration for EIR purposes, meaning county staff didn’t feel that the plant’s environmental impacts were large enough to warrant an EIR.
Naficy told the county Board of Supervisors that while the project looks good on the surface, “If you dig deeper, it falls apart.”
Opponents advocated for a closer look at plant emissions, alternatives to the project site, traffic impacts, noise impacts, and smell. They also alleged that the county needed the project in order to comply with state regulations, therefore had rushed it through the planning process.
Although supervisors acknowledged that some of the concerns were understandable, it didn’t convince them to require an EIR, saying that the case for a “fair argument” hadn’t been met. County Counsel Rita Neal said a fair argument would show substantial evidence of environmental impacts.
“The board can’t just impose an EIR on a project,” 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill said. “I understand the concern about a lot of things that I would consider speculative. … I would not say that there’s been a hurry to push this through.”