By J. Harry Jones, San Diego Union Tribune
July 15, 2011
NORTH COUNTY — A state agency that oversees trash dumps has agreed with San Diego County that a critical permit needed to build the Gregory Canyon landfill in rural North County should be issued.
The decision, released Friday afternoon by CalRecycle, represents the culmination of more than a decade of effort by Gregory Canyon Ltd., the private developer of the project that has invested nearly 20 years and more than $60 million into the plans. The landfill would be located east of Interstate 15 just south of state Route 76 near the San Luis Rey River and Pala.
The state agency agreed with an earlier decision by the county’s Department of Environmental Health that the benefits of the landfill outweigh the problems it could create.
However, as has been true throughout the long battle to get the landfill built, the issuance of the permit does not mean the dump will be constructed any time soon.
Opponents will appeal the solid waste facilities permit, county officials have been told, and therefore it will not be issued until after a public hearing has been held sometime in the next three months. Plus the developer still needs to obtain four other independent permits from various local, state and federal agencies before construction can begin.
Complicating matters further, legislation in Sacramento that could quash the landfill plans is still pending. Should Senate Bill 833, sponsored by Sen. Juan Vargas, be approved and signed by the governor later this year, it would stop the project in its tracks. That would most likely then lead to a lawsuit by Gregory Canyon Ltd., which has insisted it will not give up because it has too much time and money invested.
“We’re pleased with the latest approval from CalRecycle in one of the most scrutinized projects in the history of the state. This will allow us to move forward to build the most environmentally safe landfill in the United States,” said Gregory Canyon Ltd. Spokeswoman Nancy Chase.