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Gregory Canyon dump permit 'canceled'
Developers owe the county's Air Pollution Control District $322,000 and counting
By J. Harry Jones, .Jan. 15, 2014

PALA — A pending Gregory Canyon landfill permit that has been in the works for nearly seven years was canceled Wednesday by the county’s Air Pollution Control District because the developers owe the district more than $322,000 in late fees and work already done.

As they have for more than a decade, hundreds of people turned out a year ago for one of many public hearings regarding the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill.
— Charlie Neuman

The permit is just one of several that Gregory Canyon Ltd still needs before construction of the long-delayed dump can proceed.

The district sent a letter to the company Wednesday, saying the permit application was canceled because 45 days had passed since Gregory Canyon officials had been notified that an immediate payment of $150,000 was needed to keep the application alive.

In the letter, the agency’s Senior Engineer Steven Moore says the district will not accept any future applications for the project unless costs totaling $322,397.46 have been paid in full. In addition, late fees are accruing at a rate of 10 percent per month — and up to 100 percent of the amount due — for work already performed, the letter states.

Gregory Canyon spokeswoman Nancy Chase down played Wednesday’s development, calling it a “blip.”

“We are in a funding gap and as soon as we get some new funding we will pay the fees and reinstate the permit application,” she said. “It could be as soon as a week or it could be 30 days. It’s a little blip.”

She said investors have spent more than $62 million so far trying to get the North County landfill built. New investors being sought could become part of the ownership group, she said.

Of the permits Gregory Canyon must still secure, the one from the air pollution control was thought to be among the furthest along and the most likely to be approved.

Most of the concerns over the project — from environmental groups, the Pala Tribe of Mission Indians and some North County cities — have centered on water quality and cultural sensitivity, not air pollution.

Environmental attorney Everett DeLano, who has been fighting the landfill plans for years, said the permit cancellation “is definitely a set back for them and a win for the environment as far as I’m concerned.”

The Gregory Canyon landfill has been in the planning stages for nearly two decades. It would be built on land south of state Route 76 about three miles east of Interstate 15.

Proponents insist North County needs a new dump and that it will be a state-of-the-art facility that will never cause environmental problems. Opponents say building a landfill so close to the San Luis Rey River is an recipe for disaster.

The news of the permit cancellation comes just months after the developer announced on its website that it had reached an agreement with several private equity sources to finance the next round of development work and acquire the permits.

That announcement predicted that demolition and pre-grading could begin at the landfill site in the first quarter of this year and full construction could begin by late summer.

Chase said new funding sources had been obtained “but now we need more.” She said this is not the first time something like this has happened during the life of the project.

Applicants for permits must pay the county for the work it entails. The air pollution district is trying to determine what the impact of the landfill would be on air quality — not just the dump itself but also emissions from trash trucks and construction vehicles. Before work on the permit ceased, the district was reviewing more than 1,000 public comments received last year about the project.

Pollution Control District Director Bob Kard said work on the application was suspended in November when the first payment deadline passed. Should the county receive payment soon — accompanied by a new application — work on the permit would commence and could conceivably be done by the end of this year.


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