Morro Bay Council rejects proposed sewer plant
January 4, 2013
UPDATE: Morro Bay City Attorney Rob Schulz said Morro Bay is not pulling its application, it is asking that the Coastal Commission deny the application.
At a highly contentious special meeting, the Morro Bay City Council voted 3-2 Thursday evening to withdraw its application to build a new sewer plant at the site of the current plant.
For years, officials in Morro Bay have worked to rebuild the city’s nearly 60-year-old sewage-treatment plant. Last year, the Coastal Commission said it wanted the city to move the plant a mile from the coastline.
Morro Bay’s former council argued that such a move would add up to seven years to the three-year project and 50 percent more to its estimated $60 million cost which could double sewer bills.
Prior to the November election, four of the council members were against moving the plant or terminating the three consultants hired through an agreement with the Cayucos Sanitary District. Now, the council has three members in favor of withdrawing its permit approval application with the Coastal Commission while the city looks into its options.
Approximately 100 people attended the meeting with most asking that the plant get moved from its current beachfront location and many wanting the three consultants promoting the project terminated.
Morro Bay and Cayucos Sanitary District entered into agreements with Dennis Delzeit for project management services for a total of $253,000,with Dudek for alternative analysis reports is for a total of $455,642 and with McCabe to seek favor with the Coastal Commission for a total of $155,000.
It is unclear if the project manager Dennis Delzeit works for Wallace and the Wallace Group or if Wallace is working for Delzeit. Nevertheless, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has accused Wallace of criminal acts in his administration of the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District and said it is asking the attorney general to conduct an investigation.
While Mayor Jamie Irons voted to pull the permit application, he elected to change the wording from termination to suspension in the resolution on the three consultant contracts noting that he is a friend of John Wallace.
“I respect John Wallace; he is a decent man,” Irons said.
Dennis Delzeit also said he was aware of the allegations of criminal acts against Wallace, but not concerned.
Councilman Noah Smukler said he wanted the three contracts terminated, as opposed to suspended, partly because of Wallace’s involvement.
Members of the Cayucos Sanitary District said they were unable to attend because of holiday scheduling conflicts. So, even though the Morro Bay City Council voted to withdraw its permit application, the co-application by Cayucos will go in front of the commission as planned. In addition, even though Morro Bay has suspended its consultant contracts, Cayucos contracts with the consultants are ongoing.
Mayor Irons along with council members Christine Johnson and Noah Smukler voted in favor of canceling the permit application while suspending the consultant’s contracts while council members George Leage and Nancy Johnson angrily dissented.
In 2003, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board informed Cayucos and Morro Bay that they would have to upgrade their plant by March 2014 or face penalties. Opponents of pulling the permit application contend doing so will make it impossible to get a new plant constructed by the deadline.
Nancy Johnson said the vote to pull the Coastal Commission permit application could result in legal issues with Cayucos.
“For better or for worse, the three of you own the project,” she said.