Vallejo council tentatively set to resume Orcem/VMT hearing in May

Public Hearing on May 30 – unclear whether staff report will recommend denial of appeal

By JOHN GLIDDEN, Vallejo Times Herald, April 22, 2019 at 6:13 pm

The site of the Vallejo Marine Terminal/Orcem Americas project proposed for South Vallejo is shown. (Times-Herald file photo)

Almost two years after the Vallejo City Council directed staff to complete an environmental report for the proposed Orcem/VMT project, councilors are tentatively scheduled to meet on May 30 and make an official decision on the project, City Hall confirmed on Monday.

Vallejo spokeswoman Lyan Pernala said the public hearing will be a continuation of the council meeting from June 1, 2017 in which a heavily divided city council directed staff to bring back a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Vallejo Marine Terminal (VMT) and Orcem Americas project.

Councilmembers Pippin Dew-Costa, Hermie Sunga, Rozzana Verder-Aliga, and former Vallejo Councilman Jess Malgapo all said in 2017 that they wished to see the final report to help them decide on the appeal filed by VMT and Orcem.

Just recently, City Hall released a new draft FEIR, although staff said the document is not ready to be presented to the council for certification and possible project approval under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Staff cite the lack of necessary information and cooperation from the VMT applicants for the draft status of the report.

Prior to the 2017 hearings, staff and the applicants went back and forth regarding the need for a FEIR. Orcem and VMT argued certification would allow councilors to have full information about the project before deciding the project’s fate. Meanwhile, City Hall at the time argued such a certification is not needed if a recommendation to reject the project is being offered by staff.

Staff originally said the project will have a negative effect on the neighborhood, impact traffic around the area and is inconsistent with the city’s waterfront development policy. The project also has a degrading visual appearance of the waterfront.

Pernala didn’t confirm if City Hall will once again recommend a denial of the appeal for the May hearing.

“Staff is preparing a staff report to the City Council with their recommendation and that will be available prior to the meeting date,” she wrote in an email to the Times-Herald on Monday.

The companies submitted the appeal after Vallejo’s Planning Commission rejected the project in March 2017 by a 6-1 vote.

Pernala also said the May 30 hearing will include a public comment period. She further said the hearing might not meet in the council chambers.

“We anticipate that there are a lot of people interested in this meeting and are looking at the best venue to have as many people be able to attend,” she wrote.