Prior to the opening of public comment, City Planning Director Gary Schley introduced Bill Taylor who will be working with the City on the environmental review. Taylor has a planning background in Mammoth. Following the comment period, City Administrator Jim Tatum explained that the final environmental document would take from six to eight weeks to complete. At that time the Council will vote to accept or reject the Negative Declaration. “We will get that document out prior to the 72 hour notification requirement,” Tatum said. “We will address every comment; they will be part of the final document.”
The public comment period was extended to August 15 during the Council’s July 13 meeting.
Speakers from the residential areas between Main and Home streets objected to the project based on traffic impacts near six public and private schools, street parking and safety issues, “poor planning,” and degradation of raptor and riparian habitat.
Terrence Tey came armed with a letter from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife received by the City 10 days prior to its first public hearing on the project and an Environmental Site Investigation Report conducted by Tetra Tech for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in 2009. The nursery was purchased by Bob Kingston approximately 15 years ago by current LADWP lease holder Bob Kingston. The parcel is currently in escrow.
The CDFW letter recommended changes in two of the Declaration’s biological mitigation measures to address both raptor and non-raptor nests, buffers around any active nests, bird and bat surveys regardless of time of year due to nesting activities.
While the draft document found no issues with hazardous materials or water quality during construction, Tey pointed out sections in Tetra Tech’s report focusing on hazardous materials currently in the site’s soil and groundwater. The study involved seven drill sites with the results in four of the five tests (gasoline range organics, petroleum hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and pesticides and herbicides) showing no or low levels. But, tests for metals turned up levels exceeding the state’s Environmental Protection Act. Arsenic was present in unacceptable levels in the soils; beryllium, antimony, arsenic, cadmium and lead, in the groundwater 10-feet below the surface. According to Tey, the tests were not conducted on the southern part of the nursery site where residents on Rome Street say petroleum products and fertilizers were stored.
The report states “based on the concentrations of metals in soil … and groundwater …., there is a potential that metals could impact site use. Therefore, an evaluation of the risks to potential receptors (residential or commercial/industrial) from soil and groundwater beneath the site is recommended.”
“This information requires you reject the Negative Declaration,” Tey told the Council.
On the pro side, two members of the City’s Economic Development General Plan Amendment cited the need for housing in Bishop. “I ask that you support and respect someone willing to invest in our community,” said Allan Pietrasanta. Realtor Jake Rasmussen said the project’s density conformed to the neighborhood and “would enhance neighborhood home values.”
Bishop Nursery manager Liz Merrill addressed contentions that the west end of the nursery site was recently cleaned out as a “cover-up.” Noting that previous managers had not addressed storage behind the retail nursery, Merrill said “it was a mess back there. We just started the clean-up. There was no dumping, no cover-up. If a nursery is not workable (at this location)….it’s not a placeholder for their (neighbors’) peace and quiet.”