Apple Valley to hold special meeting on Ranchos takeover (November 12, 2015)

Final EIR available to review on town’s website

APPLE VALLEY — With the nearly two-month public review period of a draft Environmental Impact Report complete, Apple Valley announced it will hold a special meeting that could certify the final report and result in the town adopting special resolutions for eminent domain action on its proposed acquisition of the Apple Valley Ranchos water system.

The purpose of the EIR was to determine what environmental impacts might result from the project, which involves the town’s acquisition and operation of Ranchos’ water system, according to Town Spokeswoman Kathie Martin.

Scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 17 in Council chambers, the special meeting will be held two weeks after the close of the public comment period. The town posted the final EIR to its website on Monday, leading some residents to question the speed with which the public comments were considered.

This is very fast in my opinion, Apple Valley resident Al Rice said in an email. The comment period just closed on Nov. 2nd.

Rice submitted two letters during the public review period that totaled five pages. In addition to Rice’s comments, attorney Kevin Brogan of Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP submitted a 16-page document on behalf of Ranchos that detailed the company’s concerns and objections.

Park Water Company owns Ranchos and CEO Chris Schilling discussed the document drafted by Brogan.

Each issue in (its) own right raises serious concerns about the town’s objectivity in evaluating the consequences of a government takeover, Schilling wrote in an email to the Daily Press, as well as its lack of knowledge of the complexity of operating the system. The town does not know how much it will cost customers and taxpayers to take over the system. Equally troubling, the DEIR highlights the town does not know how to operate the system.

Like Rice, Apple Valley resident and fellow draft EIR commenter Greg Raven also voiced concerns relating to the week in between the close of public comment and the posting of the final EIR.

There is absolutely no way they could address the objections of Ranchos’ attorneys in a week,Raven said. What a farce.

In total, the town received seven comment letters during the California Environmental Quality Act-required public review period, all of which were submitted during the last three weeks, according to Martin, who then addressed the concerns raised by Rice and Raven.

There are quite a few similar points made in multiple letters,Martin said via email, which enables us to respond fully and completely in a shorter period of time than might normally be required. That fact, combined with addressing the comments as they came in, has ensured we (had) adequate time to incorporate any necessary changes to the EIR in time for the November 9th date when the Town (made) the Final EIR available.

A review of the final EIR showed that submitted letters were included in the report and similar concerns and objections were addressed in a subsection titled Global Responses.

Nearly 18 pages — beginning on page 225 — in the final EIR responded to the 16-page document of objections submittedbyRanchos’ attorneys.

(Every) comment was handled in the same way, Martin said. Each and every comment was specifically addressed.

Changes made to the final EIR as a result of the comments issued can be tracked in the report; word choice changes, for example, include both the original word used in the draft and the word used in its place in the final report with the original word showing a line through it.

Martin noted that Rice objected to the use of the term Guests in the draft EIR when referring to Ranchos’ parking lot. Rice suggested Customers be used in place of Guests given that a utility like water is paid for by the ratepayers.

That change — among others — was made, according to Martin.

All input from the commenters (was) appreciated, Martin said, and (resulted) in a more comprehensive and effective document.

The public is encouraged to attend the special meeting, which will take place in Council chambers at 14995 Dale Evans Parkway.

To view the final EIR online, visit

Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press