COOS BAY — At last night’s Coos Bay City Council meeting, council members decided they would not approve the Jordan Cove Energy Project’s request to move up a decision on a local permit without proof from the Department of State Lands that the date change is necessary.
The request by the JCEP is to change the scheduled Jan. 21, 2020 council meeting to take action on the land use application for comprehensive plan amendments and estuarine permits for dredging in the Coos River. Jordan Cove requested to move that review and action to the council's December meetings.
That same dredging project requires state approval from DSL in the form of a removal-fill permit. According to the JCEP, DSL will not issue the project a conditional use permit, and needs to know if the project has been approved with local permits within 30 days of making its own decision on permitting.
“In September, after the city's Aug. 27 hearing, we were informed by the Department of State Lands that they will not grant our state permits on a conditional basis, and that all local land use permits must be obtained prior to their final state permit determinations,” Jordan Cove spokesperson Paul Vogel said. “As a result, we requested decision extensions from those state agencies until Jan. 31. While that would seem to accommodate the city's current January timeline, the agencies also informed us they need to receive those permits approximately 30 days in advance of their final determinations, to complete their final review.”
However, once the JCEP requested the date change from the city, city staff contacted DSL who did not alert them to the same 30 day time frame that the JCEP claims DSL needs from local to make its own decision.
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Instead, the city received a letter from DSL that said they would appreciate having a decision on local permits as soon as possible.
“I asked our staff to reach out to the DSL and asked them for some clarification on the time frames,” Coos Bay mayor Joe Benetti said. “I have nothing here that says 30 days.”
City Council members decided it would not grant a deadline change until the JCEP provided proof that the DSL needs a decision sooner. The project's representatives assured the council that they had proof and it will be sent to the council.
A decision on whether or not to adjust the time frame of the permitting process will now be made at the Oct. 15 council meeting. It is important to note that if the council decides to change its decision date at the next meeting, none of the previous public comment period dates would change.
Around 30 citizens gave public comment on the whether or not they felt the council should move the decision up, and the majority testified that would like to see the set time frame upheld to give the council the most possible time to review the permit.