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  Time Set   9.       
Meeting Date: 09/09/2021  

Information
SUBJECT
ZF #2021-0021: Public Hearing to consider request by Syar Industries to extend its Interim Management Plan (IMP), in accordance with the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act and the Yolo County Surface Mining Reclamation Ordinance, for a period not to exceed five years. The facility is located south of Cache Creek between County Road 87 to the west and County Road 89 to the east, north of the unincorporated towns of Esparto and Madison (APNs: 049-060-013, -014; 049-120-026; and 049-130-048). The project is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). (Applicant/Owner: Syar Industries) (Planner: Ron Miller)
SUMMARY
FILE # ZF2021-0021: Request for a final extension of an Interim Management Plan at the Syar Industries Madison mining facility, in accordance with the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act and the Yolo County Surface Mining Reclamation Ordinance, for a period not to exceed five years.
APPLICANT:
Syar Industries (Jennifer Gomez, Project Manager)
2301 Napa-Vallejo Highway
Napa, CA 94558-6242

 
OWNER:
Syar Industries
2301 Napa-Vallejo Highway
Napa, CA 94558-6242

 
LOCATION: 16560 County Road 89; The facility is located south of Cache Creek between County Road 87 to the west and County Road 89 to the east, approximately 1/2-mile north of Esparto and approximately 1-mile north of Madison. All or portions of APNs 049-060-013; 049-060-014; 049-120-026; and 049-130-048.

GENERAL PLAN: Agricultural (AG); Open Space (OS); Mineral Resource Overlay (MRO)

ZONING: Agricultural Intensive (A-N); Public Open Space (POS);and Sand and Gravel Overlay (SG-O)


SUPERVISORIAL DISTRICT: 5 (Barajas)
SOILS: Yolo silty loam (Ya) Class I); Loam alluvial land (Lm) (Class IV); Marvin silty clay loam (Mf) (Class II); and Capay silty clay (Ca) (Class II)

FLOOD ZONE: AE (area within the 100-year flood plain), X (area outside the 100-year floodplain)

FIRE SEVERITY ZONE: Non-wildland/non-urban, Moderate
ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINATION: Exempt pursuant to SMARA § 2770
RECOMMENDED ACTION
That the Planning Commission:
  1. Receive a staff presentation and hold a public hearing to consider a request to extend Syar's Interim Management Plan for a period not to exceed five years;
  2. Determine that the project is exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to SMARA Section 2770, and direct staff to file a Notice of Exemption (Attachment B);
  3. Adopt the proposed Findings (Attachment C); and
  4. Approve the extension of the Interim Management Plan Extension, subject to the Conditions of Approval, as amended (Attachment D).
REASONS FOR RECOMMENDED ACTIONS/BACKGROUND
The proposed Interim Management Plan (IMP) extension contains measures to maintain the Syar Madison facility in compliance with the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) and the Yolo County Surface Mining Reclamation Ordinance while it is in an idled state. Implementation of the IMP will help ensure the health and safety of the public, as well as the environment, until mining activities are resumed.
BACKGROUND
Surface mining operations are considered “active” if engaged in mining activities on a continuous or intermittent basis so long as interruptions in mining activities do not exceed one year. By contrast, a surface mining operation is “idle” when operations are curtailed, for a period of one year or more by more than 90 percent of its maximum annual mineral production within any of the last five years and where there is intent to resume surface mining operations at a future date. The Syar Madison facility has been idle since July 1, 2011.

An IMP is required when a mining operation is idled, and is considered an amendment to an approved reclamation plan. Because an IMP is intended to be a temporary plan to maintain stable site conditions until mining activities are resumed, the submittal of an IMP does not open re-examination of an approved reclamation plan. Accordingly, the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act states that review and approval of an interim management plan shall not be considered a project for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act.
 
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
On February 16, 1999, the Board of Supervisors approved a mining and reclamation permit to Syar Industries to allow for surface mining operations on 248 acres, with reclamation to a permanent lake, habitat, and row-crop production (ZF #98-010). Due to the economic downturn and the lack of demand for aggregate material, Syar drastically cut back mining operations at their Madison facility in 2010 and idled the operation in July 2011. On December 8, 2011, the Planning Commission approved an IMP for the Syar facility lasting for a term of five years (ZF #2011-0049). On October 13, 2016, the Planning Commission approved a five-year extension of the IMP, with its term due to expire in October 2021 (ZF #2016-0034).
 
Syar now requests an extension of the IMP for an additional five years, or until such time as the mine may resume active status prior to 2026. Per Sec. 10-5.810 of the Yolo County Surface Mining Reclamation Ordinance and SMARA Section 2770(h)(2)(A), the IMP may be renewed for one additional period at the expiration of the first five-year renewal period if the surface mining operator has complied fully with the interim management plan. This requested five-year extension is the final extension allowed under SMARA and the Yolo County Surface Mining Reclamation Ordinance.

Syar has approvals to mine in two areas—Mining Areas A and B. Each mining area contains two distinct phases (A-1 & A-2; and B-1 & B-2). Mining Areas A-1 and A-2 will be reclaimed to agriculture, and Mining Areas B-1 and B-2 will be reclaimed to an open lake. Mining Area A-1 (approx. 17 acres) is completely mined and is being reclaimed to agriculture. Mining Areas A-2 (approx. 29 acres), B-1 (approx. 80 acres), and B-2 (approx. 122 acres) have been partially mined and will continue to be mined in the future. 
 
ANALYSIS
Both SMARA and the County’s Surface Mining Reclamation Ordinance require that surface-mined lands be reclaimed after mining is completed.  When, for various reasons, a surface mining operation must significantly curtail operations for an extended period of time, it can be uneconomical or even counterproductive to begin reclamation of mined lands. While it would not be practical to reclaim lands that will be re-disturbed in the near future, measures to safeguard the public health and safety, as well as the environment, must be addressed until mining activities are resumed.
 
During the recent annual SMARA inspections, intermittent occurrences of bull thistle and yellow star thistle (invasive weed species) were observed on-site.  The operator was asked to monitor and use appropriate eradication practices to control the weed growth.  In review of this IMP application, the State’s Division of Mine Reclamation (DMR) advised that a weed management plan should be included in the IMP. The plan should include, but is not limited to, weed control and eradication measures, as well as appropriate monitoring to support existing requirements of the approved reclamation plan.

Therefore, staff recommends inclusion of new Condition of Approval #4, requiring the applicant to submit a weed management plan to the Division of Natural Resources for review and approval within 60 days of approval of this IMP extension request, prior to the next annual SMARA inspection scheduled in November. 

The proposed IMP addresses public health, safety, and environmental issues relevant to the Syar Madison facility (e.g., drainage, erosion control, temporary fencing, etc.). Syar will maintain a quarry manager and other staff on site during most days to ensure site security and conduct maintenance activities. Should any such conditions arise, best management practices will be employed to address the specific issues. The entire facility is fenced and access to the site is controlled by locked gates. There is currently no pedestrian access to the site and “no trespassing” signs are clearly posted.

Financial assurances shall remain in effect during the period that the surface mining operation is idle and shall be updated each year as part of the annual report. Syar currently maintains financial assurances in the amount of $2,423,651.50 for the Madison facility. An inspection of the Madison facility was performed on November 20, 2020. No specific County Code or SMARA violations or corrective measures were noted at time of inspection. Staff is scheduled to inspect the facility again in late November, as part of the annual compliance review. The facility will continue to be inspected on an annual basis, as required per SMARA Section 2774.
 
APPEALS
Any person who is dissatisfied with the decisions of this Planning Commission may appeal to the Board of Supervisors by filing with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors within fifteen (15) days from the date of the action. A written notice of appeal specifying the grounds for appeal and an appeal fee immediately payable to the Clerk of the Board must be submitted at the time of filing. The Board of Supervisors may sustain, modify, or overrule this decision.



 
Attachments
Att. A- Location Map
Att. B- CEQA Exemption
Att. C- Findings
Att. D- Conditions of Approval
Att. E- Interim Management Plan (Appendices on file with Natural Resources Division)
Att. F- Maps

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Form Review
Inbox Reviewed By Date
Eric May Eric May 09/02/2021 10:00 AM
Leslie Lindbo Leslie Lindbo 09/02/2021 10:23 AM
Taro Echiburu Evelyn Tamayo-Arias 09/02/2021 11:11 AM
Form Started By: Ronald Miller Started On: 08/16/2021 07:53 AM
Final Approval Date: 09/02/2021

    

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