Concerns about sage grouse could complicate the project.
Darrol and Kevin Brown of D&S Waste Disposal in Yerrington, Nevada are seeking permission to expand an old transfer station off of Highway 167 in Lee Vining. During the April 18 Mono County Land Development Technical Advisory Committee meeting, the two presented building plans for an 8,000 square foot facility.
Darrol Brown told The Sheet, “We’ve [D&S Waste Disposal] been transferring garbage since 1995. I’ve been in the garbage business for 35 years, so I’ve got some experience. We already pick up all over Mono County, and right now, a lot of that waste goes to Benton Crossing Landfill, which we all know is set to close … All we’re proposing is that we expand on our facility so that we can prepare to long-haul larger quantities of waste, which will cut down on export expenses for everybody.”
The plan would expand upon a site that was once operated by former land owner Bob Goodell. Goodell ran Mono County Garbage, a private waste collection service, until about 20 years ago. According to Kevin Brown, “this property was actually built for garbage 30 years ago, but we couldn’t find much in the way of permitting from that time. Back then, it seems things were sort of done with a handshake and a wink.”
That won’t be the case this time around, said Principal Planner Gerry Le Francois.
The Committee emphasized that the parcel of land, about halfway down the north side of Mono Lake, is in what the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service initially proposed as critical habitat for Bi-State sage grouse in 2015. That proposal was rescinded, but as one commissioner noted, “we get negative flack for an outhouse out in the middle of nowhere, let alone an 8,000 square foot building.”
Large structures become roosts for ravens, which harass the grouse, and prey on chicks. Darrol Brown said that he had attended public meetings about Sage Grouse and spoken informally with a representative from California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who said that the proposed plot was outside any area of particular concern for Sage Grouse Habitat. The Committee was clear that formal permitting and environmental impact assessment would be required.