FEBRUARY 10, 2009




FEBRUARY 10, 2009

7:00 P.M.



The regular meeting of the Livingston Planning Commission was held in the City Council Chambers on Tuesday, February 10, 2009.


The meeting was called to order by Chair Avila at 7:01 p.m.


Commissioners Present: Chair Ramon Avila and Commissioners Maricela Alvear, David

Blevins, and Martin Silva.


Commissioners Absent: Vice-Chair Benafield


Staff Present: Administrative Assistant Filomena Arredondo, Community Development Director Donna Kenney, and Assistant City Attorney Melanie Donnelly.


Others Present: Mayor Daniel Varela, Sr., Council Member Margarita Aguilar, Council Member Martha S. Nateras, Roy Soria, James Marnatti – Foster Farms, Lisa Schwartz and Patsy Gonzalez – Condor Earth Technologies, Inc., Mike Torres, Warren Urnberg, Katherine Schell-Rodriguez, Colette Alvernaz, and others in the audience.



The pledge of allegiance to the flag was recited.





Motion by Commissioner Blevins, seconded by Commissioner Alvear, to approve the minutes from the regular meeting of January 13, 2009. Motion carried 4-0.




Colette Alvernaz, P.O. Box 255, Livingston, expressed concern about the options presented to the City Council for the crossing of Peach Avenue at 7th and Main Streets, for the Livingston High School Expansion project. She feels that this issue should have been addressed at a Planning Commission and Citizens’ Advisory Committee meeting and at a town hall meeting so that they could bring everybody’s ideas together and come up with the best plan.







Foster Farms is currently planning a new Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant (IWWTP) in order to accommodate water quality requirements being implemented by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) for waters discharged by an IWWTP. The City prepared an Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration for this project. Written comments were accepted during the 30-day public review period which commenced on December 8, 2008, and ended in January 9, 2009.


Staff presented the staff report and recommended approval of the project.


In 2000, the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) issued a Notice of Violation to the City for conditions existing at the existing plant. In 2007, in response to that Notice of Violation, the City Council approved plans to expand its existing plant and certified a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the project. In November 2007, the City and Foster Farms entered into a settlement agreement whereby Foster Farms would design and construct its own private plant.


The City would then have its plant decommissioned and get that land back. Foster Farms is now coming forward with their site plan. The proposal includes six open treatment tanks that are 50 feet to 115 feet in diameter and they are built at-grade of pre-stressed concrete. There is a Chemical and Blower Building that is 16-foot high; an Influent Pump Station; Clarifier No. 1; Clarifier No. 2; Anoxic Reactor No. 1; Anoxic Reactor No. 3; Nitrification Reactor No. 2; and Aerobic Reactor No. 4.


This project was sent out for agency review and comments on May 8, 2008, and revised plans were then distributed on June 17, 2008. Staff has been working hard with Foster Farms to get the site plan that accommodates their needs as well as what the City needs based on the City’s General Plan, Zoning, and Master Plans.


Some of the comments that staff received from the other agencies included:


1. Adjusting the location of the Winton-Olive Avenue connector through their site from Winton all the way out to Olive.


2. Putting in additional parking spaces and additional screening.


3 The Foster Farms park site plus all the reclamation fields is about 240 acres. The actual site

where their buildings are is about 10 acres in size. There will not be much visible difference to most of their property since this facility itself will sit behind the freezer plant and to the west of their existing poultry plant.


As part of this project, Foster Farms has requested approval by the Minor Subdivision Committee to do a lot merge. These parcels (the existing plant and the proposed plant) are on different parcels and they will be brought together into one parcel so the Wastewater Treatment Plant will be a secondary use to the primary use of the existing chicken facility.


Colors and materials of this structure will match the industrial look of the other buildings.


Staff is still working on responses to the agency letters received on the Environmental Document. There are some possible archeological issues, so staff has contracted with an archeologist to come out and do some testing. That information will be provided to the City Council.


A Foster Farms representative and the environmental consultants from Condor were present to answer questions.


Chair Avila opened the Public Hearing at 7:12 p.m.


Jim Marnatti, Environmental Affairs Director for Foster Farms, 1333 Swan Street, stated this project is necessary for future sustainability. They have in the past discharged chicken processing wastewater that they have pretreated to the City of Livingston’s ponds and then from there they have brought it back onto their property as irrigation water for cover crops.


He explained the idea of a reclamation field is that when you irrigate with water that contains nutrients, you plant a cover crop that will reclaim the nutrients from the water you are applying to the land to try to balance the allowed water being discharged to the cover crop, so you have no net impact on the environment. Since they have been unsuccessful in the past in doing that, it has taken an additional step which is building this wastewater treatment facility to insure protection of the environment and brown water in the region by denitrifying. This is called a biological nitrogen removal facility (BNR).


He explained the biological nitrogen removal process and added that it is a big benefit to the surrounding area and it protects the citizens of the community and their future operations.


Colette Alvernaz, P.O. Box 255, Livingston, said she is pleased to hear about the sustainability and the reclamation of the water.


Ms. Alvernaz added that it’s noted in the Livingston Urban Water Management Plan that Caltrans recommends the use of water reclamation to irrigate along the highway, but this is not noted in the City of Livingston 2025 General Plan. She added that there has been a lot of controversy about where to enlarge the sewer plant and feels that when the ponds are vacated, instead of putting an industrial park there, it would make a lot of sense to use that for the City’s domestic needs and not spend the money and take productive agricultural land.


Roy Soria, 1826 D Street, stated he is all for the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant (IWWTP) facility that Foster Farms is trying to build, but he thinks Foster Farms should make some improvements in return, such as improving Bird Street and putting in sidewalks on Livingston-Cressey Way. He added that when Foster Farms built their storage facility, they said they were going to plant redwood trees on Campbell Boulevard, and he has not yet seen any redwood trees there.


Staff explained that the site of the Foster Farms construction is on the other side of their facility and the freezer plant so there is no nexus for staff to require them to install sidewalks.


Mike Torres, 1616 8th Street, questioned if this Site and Design Review is going to take place on the 10 acres.


Staff responded that the tanks and buildings themselves are on 10 acres and the reclamation fields make up the total 240 acres of the project.


Mr. Torres asked if they have plans to recycle their water in the future.


Jim Marnatti responded they are looking at not only water reduction methods, but also water recycling methods for their complex; they want to make sure that they have the least impact on the environment.


Mr. Torres asked how long it will take for the change over.


Jim Marnatti responded their goal is that once the treatment facility is up and running and they get the discharge levels they want, they will immediately discontinue discharges to the City’s ponds.

Mike Torres asked who would monitor the plant.


Jim Marnatti responded they will have a wastewater treatment manager and certified operatoronsite 24 hours.


Chair Avila closed the Public Hearing at 7:26 p.m.


Commissioners’ Comments:



Asked Mr. Marnatti if they have built other plants of this type in the past.


Mr. Marnatti responded the design company they selected has built about a dozen other projects of this type and they have direct experience with this type of treatment.


Asked Mr. Marnatti if they are aware that this plant may not be as efficient as theyexpect.


Mr. Marnatti responded that taking the same design that the other plants have built and looking at the similarity of their operations, their numbers have been right around half the permanent limit that will be dealt with, so they feel that they have quite a bit of buffer.


Asked what would be the environmental impacts, such as odors and bugs.


Mr. Marnatti stated this plant was designed specifically not to have excess odors and it was evaluated thoroughly by Condor Earth Technologies, so he doesn’t feel there are any potential concerns there. He noted that Foster Farms has had a pre-treatment process onsite before this plant and it is not going to get rid of that process, so the water that comes out is going to be of fairly good quality.


Asked the project consultant what process the company designed to remove the sludge in the water and if they have a sludge disposal site.


Lisa Schwartz, Senior Planner, Condor Earth Technologies, P.O. Box 3905, explained the waste sludge disposal process. She added that about twice a year, the sludge gets vacuumed out and hauled off in trucks by a certified company to a sewage plant disposal facility. It is then spread in the ground to use as fertilizer.


James Marnatti added that the company that hauls off the sludge has to get a permit from the Regional Water Quality Control Board in advance and the Regional Water Quality Control Board looks at what is in the sludge and at the cover crop that they grow and the amount that they apply to the amount of acreage so that they ensure that the cover crop will take up 100% of whatever is put on the land and used as a fertilizer.



She is glad that the City is working with Foster Farms.


Asked staff who oversees the existing IWWTP.


Staff responded Larry Parlin with Environmental Management Systems (EMS) oversees the existing IWWTP.


Questioned how things would be handled if another industrial company comes in.


Staff explained that right now Foster Farms is the sole user of the existing plant – they do not allow other industrial projects to hook up to it and this would remain the same once the new plant is built. Anything new industrial wise will hook into the City’s Domestic Waste Water Treatment Plant (DWWTP).


Asked if the Domestic Waste Water Treatment Plant has capacity for new industrial hook ups.


Staff replied that there is an Environmental Impact Report currently in process for the expansion of the DWWTP from 2 Million gallons a day to 4 Million gallons a day.




Expressed concern that the responses to comments were not included in their agenda packet.


Staff explained that no comments from private citizens were received. Staff did receive agency letters from Merced Irrigation District, the Native American Heritage Commission and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. MID’s letter discussed their canals and some issues that could easily be resolved. Some archeology work is being done in response to the comments from the Native American Heritage Commission.


Asked staff to explain the process for merging the parcels.


Staff explained the City Engineer works with the applicant engineer to create the map that shows the parcels being merged. That information is brought before the Minor Subdivision Committee, which consists of the City Manager, the Planning Director, and the Chair of the Planning Commission, and they determine whether or not it is appropriate based on the engineer’s recommendations.


Asked how they monitor the finding of turtle ponds.


Environmental Consultant Lisa Schwartz, Condor Earth Technologies, explained there were two pond turtles that are living in the reclamation fields, so there is mitigation on the project that requires the construction area to be fenced with an impermeable barrier (something that turtles cannot climb over), so they are excluded from the construction area and then the other concern would be in the future, when the City ponds are reclaimed, there needs to be turtle surveys done to make sure that turtle are not actually inhabiting in the ponds at the time they start to be dewatered and reclaimed, and if so, they will be relocated. That would be done by a qualified biologist and it would be done

7 in accordance with the Department of Fish and Game.


Asked if new green house gas emission guidelines will have to be applied to this project if the laws change in 2012.


Lisa Schwartz responded that once the plant is built, they would not typically come back and retroactively apply new standards to an existing project. She added that right now the State has no guidelines on what the numbers can be, so it was determined that it was not significant because it is way below the thresholds that are currently being discussed by various State agencies.


Expressed concern about Yamato Colony School students being exposed to chemicals from the ponds.


Staff explained that Yamato Colony and the neighborhoods were identified as sensitive receptors and they were taken into consideration on all the environmental work that was done.


Commented that 240 acres is a lot of acreage and he sides with the people concerned about the recycling of that water.


He thinks Foster Farms presented a very good project and he feels it is long overdue.


Motion by Commissioner Blevins, seconded by Commissioner Alvear, to adopt Resolution 2009-02, a Resolution of the Planning Commission of the City of Livingston Recommending to the City Council the Adoption of the Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration and Approval of Site Plan/Design Review 2008-01 for the Foster Farms Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant Project. Motion carried 3-1, by the following vote:


AYES: Chair Avila and Commissioners Alvear and Blevins


NOES: Commissioner Silva


ABSENT: Vice-Chair Benafield




Planning Commission Silva

Stated he was not aware of Foster Farms building a new Waste Water Treatment Plant until the day he took a tour of the plant. He does not feel that the Planning Commissioners were properly informed of this project.


He feels the City is helping Foster Farms grow; therefore, Foster Farms show at least be planting some new trees in return. He finds it is very odd that there were no negative


comments on this project. He has personally worked in several waste water treatment plant projects and knows that most, if not all, have problems. He feels that there should have been more information out for people to understand that this is a very serious issue. That is why he voted against this project. He added that his agenda packet was delivered to his house the Friday before the Planning Commission meeting and that is the first he ever heard on this project.


Staff clarified that this environmental document was out for public comment from December 8, 2008, through January 9, 2009, and added that she personally delivered a copy to all Planning Commissioners on December 8, 2008.



Wished Commissioner Alvear well since this is her last Planning Commission meeting.



Invited everyone to go watch the Livingston High School basketball games.



Thanked Commissioner Alvear for sitting on the Planning Commission past her term which ended December 2008. He feels all the Planning Commissioners have worked very well together. Since he has been on the Planning Commission for the last nine years, there have not been many absentees until recently because new commissioners were supposed to be onboard since January 1, 2009.


City Staff

Staff hand delivered binders for the Foster Farms project to the Planning Commission on December 8, 2008. Terms for two of the Planning Commissioners ended December 2008; however, staff thought it was best to keep the two Planning Commissioners over another month because they had been reading this document since December and new Commissioner would not have enough time to read the material.


Progress is happening on Blueberry Crossing and the new Wal-Mart site. Staff met with the environmental consultant and Wal-Mart’s attorneys to talk about the impacts that Wal-Mart could have on the environment. The Environmental Impact Report will take about 40 weeks to complete. They will be looking at the economic impact on the downtown, checking the site for biology, and archeology, and other various issues.


The Marriott Hotel is moving forward. The developer is starting to work on their Site Design. This project should be coming to the Planning Commission within the next few months.


Horisons Health Care is currently working with the Elementary School District on the lease of a piece of property behind their building to use for parking. There are still some issues being resolved. The City Attorney would like to see a permanent long-term lease or sale of the property, rather than a short-term lease.


The City will have a draft of the environmental document for the Walnut Sports Complex in the next two weeks. Staff will be providing comments on that document, and once all comments are received, staff will get the document out for a 30-day public review period. Once this document gets adopted by Council, the City will be ready for grant applications to do the temporary soccer fields and temporary gardens until the City gets more building permits and is able to use some of the impact fees to start building.


Staff is working hard on the Housing Element Update. The Planning and Building departments are working on a vacant land survey. Staff will also be looking at what the City’s housing requirements are for low income over the next five years.


City Attorney

No Comments



The regular meeting was adjourned by consensus at 8:00 p.m., to the next Planning Commission meeting on March 10, 2009.


APPROVED: March 10, 2009

______________________________ _______________________________

Chair, RAMON AVILA Secretary of the Planning Commission,



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