Does Attorney Mark Carney have a Clue?
At Wednesday’s Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission meeting, he expressed a desire to become a college professor sometime in the future.
But you would’ve thought, based upon the name of his client, that he would’ve deferred staking a claim to the title ‘Professor’ until after he’d solved his latest mystery.
Which he did. By a 3-1 vote. With Commissioner Sharon Clark dissenting.
For those keeping score at home, it was Professor Plum in Suite Z with a gaggle of bureaucrats.
Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission approved Terry Plum’s application for a tentative parcel map and use-permit to subdivide a 4.39-acre parcel into four lots at the end of Tamarack Street.
As part of the agreement, he will provide the Town a 10-foot wide non-motorized public access easement connecting Tamarack Street to U.S. Forest Service land — considered a key connective component of the Town’s future trails system.
The approval was granted over the dissent of neighboring property owners Deanna Lantieri, Robert Creasy and Stacey Bardfield, represented by Attorney Tim Sanford.
Fundamentally, Sanford thinks that Town Staff hasn’t demanded enough information. Specifically, that the applicant should have been required to submit a full-blown Environmental Impact Report, as opposed to a Mitigated Negative Declaration.
“Substitute factual certainty for tentative opinions,” he said.
He cited several places in the staff report where follow-up studies are scheduled to be done.
Why not conduct those studies now before giving approval?
Lantieri said her home was built in 2002 and she experienced groundwater issues by 2004. “Things do change,” she said, alluding to Sanford’s point that the initial soil and groundwater tests were performed eight years ago.
Clark was more concerned about the curious unresolved differences between Mr. Plum and the Mammoth Community Water District.
As yet, Plum and MCWD have not come to terms in regard to an easement over Plum’s property, which would provide MCWD easier access to two critical wells.
She suggested the Commission withhold its approval until Plum and MCWD came to terms, a sentiment initially echoed by fellow Commissioner Elizabeth Tenney.
“I’m troubled by the access issue,” said Tenney. “I’m not supportive until that [issue] is resolved.”
“It makes me suspicious of all sorts of things [he’s telling us],” said Clark. “I’m an unhappy camper.”
“Is this in the best interest of the Town, that the Water District does not have access?” she asked.
Acting Commission Chair Jay Deinken countered by saying, “So we’ll hold this hostage until they work it out?’ he asked rhetorically. “To not grant approval assumes the applicant is to blame for the disagreement, he said.
When asked post-meeting if the hold-up was about money, Carney replied, “We’re not asking for a dime [in exchange for granting the easement].”
Carney said Plum is asking for indemnification in the event an MCWD employee is hurt or killed while engaging in activity on Plum’s property.
He said all other agencies have assented to this condition.
Unfortunately, [MCWD] is used to imposing conditions of easements, not being in the position of asking for them,” he said.
MCWD Board Member Tom Cage said that if this is all Plum is asking for, the deal could be completed tomorrow.
Noting that Carney was not in the room for three previous meetings held between Plum, Cage and MCWD G.M. Greg Norby, Cage said the sticking point was that Plum wanted MCWD to indemnify him for other people and entities unrelated to MCWD.
“We couldn’t meet all his demands,” said Cage.
Attorney Joe Pannone noted that MCWD does have alternate access to the wells via Snowcreek.
Another issue yet to be worked out is what happens if Plum grants the easement, but does not move forward with his project in a timely fashion.
In that case, the Town will not have the right to build a finished trails project over that easement.
Sanford said his client may appeal the approval to Town Council.