Benicia City Council to begin hearings on March 15; Public comment scheduled for April 4
An alert resident here in Benicia sent me a City mailer yesterday announcing plans for the City Council’s consideration of Valero’s appeal of the Planning Commission’s unanimous denial of Valero Crude by Rail.
The mailer gives a Hearing date of March 15, 2016, and states, “Staff presentations and Valero presentations will take place on March 15, 2015. Public comment time will not happen until April 4, 2016.” Responding to my inquiry this morning, the City confirmed these dates and procedures.
As of this writing, the general public has not yet been notified. The mailer was sent to residents within 500 feet of the proposed crude by rail project, and arrived in the mail on Monday, March 7. (The resident who sent me the mailer lives farther than 500 feet, so the City may have distributed the mailer to a larger “blast zone” radius.)
The City is required by statute to consider an appeal at the first regularly scheduled meeting following receipt of the appeal by 14 or more days, therefore at the March 15 Council meeting. (See Benicia Municipal Code 1.44.40.B and 1.44.90.) This would explain why staff is going ahead with presentations on March 15.
Even so, it will be difficult on this schedule for Council members to familiarize themselves with the huge number of reports and analyses in order to make an informed decision. It seems likely that someone will ask the City for more time.
Written public comments are encouraged now! Send your thoughts to the City Council by email directed to Amy Million, Principal Planner, Benicia Community Development Department: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also send your letter Amy Million by mail to 250 East L Street, Benicia, CA 94510, or by Fax: (707) 747-1637.
And mark your calendar now, so you don’t forget. Please plan to attend on Tuesday, March 15 for the presentations, and again on Monday, April 4. All meetings will be held at 7:00 p.m. in City Hall Council Chamber, 250 East, L Street, Benicia.