Update on two slow-moving well projects

At the Annual Meeting, President Frank Mezzatesta reported that the 30-day comment period on the permit for Well #8 is expected to start “any day now,” and the Board is still studying potential locations for Well #7.

Well #8

Mezzatesta reported the Crestview-funded, City-managed initial environmental study is only days away from being released for public comment. Then, Crestview, neighbors, and others will have 30 days to file written comments.  The report will then be revised by the City’s consultant and Planning staff and set for a public hearing.  Based on all that, the City will decide if Crestview’s application can proceed without a full Environmental Impact Report or if it can avoid that slow and expensive process by modifying the project to mitigate potential environmental impacts identified in the initial study.

As background, the initial study requirement was imposed by the City in a June 10, 2022 letter.  Crestview did not agree to fund it ($11,408) until September 6, 2022, and the City’s consultant did not start work until several months later.  In May 2023, Crestview was still responding to the consultant’s request for more information, and Planning staff and the consultant have continued to revise the report.  Neither Crestview nor neighbors have been permitted to see drafts.  Crestview filed the permit application January 8, 2020.

Well #7

President Mezzatesta reported that the Board is still considering in executive sessions six potential sites (including 191 Alviso) for Well #7 that were proposed to the Board by the Ad Hoc Committee (Alma Quezada and Robert Eranio) on May 25, 2023.

As background, a permit application was filed April 24, 2019 for Well #7 on Crestview’s lot at 191 Alviso, but the County denied it by a 5-0 Planning Commission vote on June 25, 2020, and then by a 5-0 vote of the Board of Supervisors on September 14, 2021.  In early 2022, President Chooljian started, stopped, and in August 2022 restarted evaluation of alternative sites.  Finally, in October 2022, he proposed to the Board a site selection process involving an Ad Hoc Committee (“AHC”), a Shareholder Advisory Committee (“SAC”), and a budget to hire outside experts.  The SAC was selected December 2, 2022, and had its first one-hour meeting a week later.

By early February, the AHC and SAC had run into trouble.  One faction wanted to continue with the Board-approved work plan and hire outside experts to provide critical hydrogeological and cost information.  The other faction wanted to narrow the number of sites from six to two or three based on Eranio’s qualitative assessments, not to spend any money on outside experts, and to dismiss the SAC.  One contentious issue was that in the spreadsheet controlled by Eranio, he repeatedly reduced the depth of a well at 191 Alviso from 1,450 feet, as it had been designed by Crestview’s hydrogeologist, to 900 feet. That made 191 Alviso look $1,100,000 cheaper in the comparative cost estimates, but there was no professional opinion that there could be a viable well at the shallower depth.  By March 12, 2023, the Ad Hoc Committee, with Mezzatesta’s approval, proposed that the Board revise the process to eliminate inputs from experts and to reduce inputs from the SAC and other shareholders.  The final report nominating six sites was accepted by the Board on May 25, 2023.  Since then, the Board has discussed well site selection only in executive sessions and has released no information.

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