Effort to block sewer hearing rejected

A Superior Court judge has denied a request by Los Osos developer Jeff Edwards to block a hearing Tuesday before the Board of Supervisors concerning the community’s sewer project.

Judge Teresa Estrada-Mullaney on Friday denied Edwards’ request for a temporary restraining order against the board. That means the supervisors are free to make two minor modifications to the project, said County Counsel Warren Jensen.

In his request, Edwards argued that the board should be required to rehear the entire project, not just the one condition of approval in question. Supervisors on Sept. 29 approved the $165 million sewer project after a daylong hearing.

The controversy arose when the California Coastal Commission appealed the project due to concerns about where the system’s wastewater would be disposed. The commission wanted assurance that all of the wastewater would be disposed of within the Los Osos groundwater basin.

The board scheduled the Nov. 24 hearing to eliminate two sentences from one of more than 100 conditions of approval. Removal of the sentences should result in the commission withdrawing its appeal.

One sentence allows wastewater to be disposed of outside the basin as a result of a lawsuit judgment. The other sentence allows agricultural reuse of the effluent within Los Osos Valley, an area larger than the groundwater basin.

Public Works Director Paavo Ogren told supervisors that making the changes will not affect the feasibility of the project.

The commission is concerned about the issue because recharging the groundwater basin and preventing saltwater intrusion are key goals of the sewer project.

Even if the Coastal Commission appeal is withdrawn, the project will still have to go before the commission. Twenty-one other groups and individuals have appealed the project.

Public works officials expect the project to go before the commission in January when the panel meets in Southern California.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.