With one seat vacant due to a resignation and a depleted management staff following recent resignations, members of the Bear Valley Springs Community Services District board of directors started off their first meeting of the year with a lot on their plate.
In addition to commending now former board member Al Romano for his eight years of service, the board also discussed amendments to the timber harvest agreement between the CSD and Bear Mountain Ranch, and also listened to a proposal from the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District.
After receiving a standing ovation for his eight years of service to the CSD, Romano said "I want to thank all of you for giving me the opportunity and the honor to serve you. Thank you for putting your trust in me."
Romano served as vice president of board in 2009 until 2012 and also served on the communications, finance, infrastructure, liaison, and public safety committees.
He filed a letter of resignation on Jan. 2 to the General Manager, which stated he is leaving due to health concerns.
Immediately following Romano's departure, the board voted on how to fill the vacant seat on the district board.
According to Senate Bill 135, the board is required to have five board members at all times and has 60 days to fill the vacant seat, which can be done in three different ways, including holding a special election, appointing a volunteer, or leaving the decision up to the Kern County Board of Supervisors.
The board voted unanimously to have a volunteer appointed and will advertise the vacancy.
Also discussed was a proposal from John Martin, General Manager of the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District, who described a project that would transport treated effluent from the California Correctional Institution to be used by the company Tehachapi Turf, which leases land from the Bear Valley Springs CSD in Cummings Valley.
"The Water District board has considered and approved in principal the idea of the water district actually building pipeline that will convey the recycled water from the turnout on the prison property," to the property that is owned by the CSD, Martin said. The pipeline would be about a mile long and would cost around $300,000 dollars, which would be covered by the TCCWD, Martin said. There would be no direct cost to the district.
The board voted to have the project reviewed by the CSD's administration committee.
The board also revisited the controversial timber harvest agreement proposed by Bear Mountain Ranch owner, Chuck Abel, to have access to roads throughout Bear Valley in order to carry out a logging project that was approved by the State of California last year.
The proposal was discussed at a special board meeting in November 2013, drawing concerns from residents who are afraid of increased traffic and potential road damages rendered by the 80,000 pound logging trucks being used in the project.
According to the agreement, the logging trucks would be permitted to make 10 roundtrips per workday, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
At the special board meeting, the board was uncertain on how to hold Bear Mountain Ranch responsible for certain damages and what amount should be paid to the CSD for compensation. According to the plan approved by the State of California, Bear Mountain Ranch is required to restore the roads in Bear Valley back to the condition they were in prior to the project, or "better."
At the end of the special board meeting, the directors voted to require Bear Mountain Ranch to pay $60,000 at the end of the logging project.
But at the Jan. 9 meeting, President Bill Mason said the ranch did not accept that amount and has instead offered to pay $35 per trip.
"We've quickly come to the conclusion between ourselves and also with input from an outside road engineering consultant, that this $35 per trip is woefully undercharged," Mason said.
The board readdressed the agreement and discussed amendments made by the district's legal counsel, revising some of the language to the contract, which will be sent back to Bear Mountain Ranch to be reviewed.
At this point, no agreements have been made between the ranch and the CSD.
Furthermore, board member Gil Grace recommended that the board put the agreement on hold and wait to determine if there are any other alternative routes that can be used by the ranch, which would require approval from the State of California.
The board voted to send the agreement back to Bear Mountain Ranch with the stipulation that the board verify if any other routes can be used by the ranch.
At a special meeting earlier in the week, the board discussed how to fill its vacant General Manager and other positions.
Following considerable discussion on Jan. 7, the board agreed to negotiate with a recruiting firm to provide an Interim GM while it begins a search for a permanent person for that role.