Friday, May 27, 2011

Crows Landing Developer Ordered to Pay County Staff Time

The developer behind the Crows Landing intermodal industrial park in California's Central Valley has been ordered by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors to pay just under $170,000 in county staff costs for the review of environmental documents related to the project.

As the head of PCCP West Park LLC, developer Gerry Kamalos has been fighting for more than four years to get the Crows Landing project to the construction phase. In March, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors agreed in a narrow 3-2 vote to give Kamalos a 15-month extension to complete environmental documents needed before construction on the project can begin.

Kamalos has not paid for county staff time in four years, according to the Modesto Bee, because county officials weighed the staff costs against the PCCP West Park estimate of thousands of jobs to be created by the project.

However, a recent county examination estimated that reports on the project due by the end of the 15-month extension in June 2012 will require sizable county staff review that would amount to 1,127 hours of county staff time. The county estimates that this staff time will costs $169,000 and is asking PCCP to pay the costs in four equal payments of $42,250 due in June and October of this year and January and May of next year.

Just prior to the county vote on the extension earlier this year, Kamilos announced sizable changes to the scope of the Crows Landing project.

PCCP’s original plan sought to remake the former Crows Landing Naval Air Station property into a 4,800-acre modern rail and industrial complex. A major component of the project was a $52 million short-haul rail plan seeking to upgrade existing rail track along an 80-mile-long route running from Crows Landing to the Port of Oakland and back.

The rail component remains part of the project's first phase of construction and would likely take several years to complete. The original rail plan forecast for the completed complex to handle several 50-car trains or more per day via the proposed route between the Oakland port and the Crows Landing site about 70 miles inland from the port.

Once the containers reached the Crows Landing complex, the plan envisioned the containers being loaded onto trucks for distribution throughout the California Central Valley.

According to PCCP, Central Valley agricultural products and other regional products could be returned via the same rail line to the port for export.

Kamalos announced the scale-down of the plan as a way of addressing concerns raised by local residents who worry about potential noise, congestion and pollution due to envisioned operations at the complex.

The revised plan presented by Kamalos to the supervisors calls for two trains a day instead of six and a reduction of the total project size from 4,800 acres to 2,800 acres.

Kamalos' revised plans also call for the construction of an 850-acre solar power facility to be located on some of the 2,000 acres not included in the revised plans. Kamalos also said in early March that an additional $7.5 million--$4 million from PCCP West Park and $3.5 million from outside investor Spinnaker Energy Group--has been acquired for the project.