Sunday, 14 April 2024

Lake County Planning Commission grants conditional approval of trucking company permits

LAKEPORT – On Thursday the Lake County Planning Commission granted a longtime Upper Lake business a year to meet several use permit requirements or possibly face closure.

Pivniska Trucking requested a use permit, general plan amendment and rezone to replace a 10-year use permit that Community Development staff said expired in 2000.

Associate Planner Keith Gronendyke said county staff was recommending a partial approval of the application. Community Development Director Rick Coel added that they wanted to give the Pivniskas a year to meet several outstanding conditions with the old use permit.

Marilyn Pivniska, who has run the company with her son, Chris, since her husband Butch's death in June of 2007, told the commission that, “When you read this staff report, it paints us with a very ugly brush, like we are some noncompliant criminal element.”

Pivniska said she's been in the trucking business for 35 years, with 29 of those years being at the current location, 85 and 79 E. State Highway 20.

She said her operation generates more than $2 million in revenue which stays in Lake County. There's not much of a profit margin in trucking, she said, with most of her revenue going to her eight employees and the 10 to 20 owner/operator truckers she hires annually.

“We have been productive citizens in this county and the county should try to work with us” and all small businesses, Pivniska said.

She didn't have an issue with the year to comply, but she was concerned about having to move a portable gravel screening plant from its spot on land that is zoned for rural residential to another area of the property, where it was originally located and where the zoning is correct.

The county also was asking for piles of materials to be moved, and Pivniska asked permission to bring in a portable crusher for about a week to prepare the materials for resale.

Commissioner Cliff Swetnam was particularly concerned that the Pivniskas were operating on an expired use permit first issued in 1990, the conditions of which still weren't fully met nearly 20 years later.

Swetnam read off the eight unfulfilled use permit conditions: requirement to obtain an encroachment permit from Caltrans along the property's Highway 20 frontage, construction of a new encroachment, paving all parking lots and driveways with an all-weather surface, continuously maintaining all parking and access areas in good repair, installing landscaping along the highway frontage, installing fencing around fuel areas to screen them from the highway and no outdoor storage with the exception of one area on the property's southern portion.

He called it “gutsy” for the Pivniskas to request a new permit when they haven't fully complied with the old one.

“Well, I could blame it on my late husband, but I won't do that, I'll take full responsibility,” said Marilyn Pivniska, who noted that some of the delay was because of affordability.

Chris Pivniska said he's trying to clean up the issues left to him. “We would like to comply,” he said, explaining that they need both time and money.

“You've had 19 years,” said Swetnam.

Clearly frustrated, Chris Pivniska replied, “That's neither here nor there.”

He explained that moving a screening plant over close to the business' shop would not be cost effective.

“Would your business being shut down without permits be cost effective?” Swetnam asked.

No, said Pivniska, adding that the report said a lot of “bad things.”

“Tell us what's not true,” said Swetnam.

“Everything's true in it, obviously,” said Pivniska. “There's a lot of good things we do, too.”

Replied Swetnam, “I don't doubt that.”

Commissioner Clelia Baur, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Commissioner Gary Briggs, told the Pivniskas that the county respects the work they're doing and is trying to work with them.

“I think you can come into compliance in a year” while continuing to run the business and stay a part of the community, she said.

Coel said his staff's initial reaction was not to support the rezone, but looking at how the commission recently worked out some issues with Epidendio Construction caused them to reconsider.

Epidendio went before the commission in April and was granted a mitigated negative declaration and permission to continue operating for an indefinite period of time an equipment storage yard located at 11325 and 11180 Highway 29 in Lower Lake, according to commission records.

Coel said that, if the Pivniskas' location wasn't right on the highway and not close to downtown Upper Lake, the standards being applied to it probably wouldn't be as heavy.

He suggested the commission approve the new use permit with the same conditions, and his department would work with the Pivniskas on the issues. “We just want to see it brought up to current standards.”

Air Pollution Control Officer Doug Gearhart of the Lake County Air Quality Management District weighed in on the situation, noting there have been complaints about dust from the business in the past, but not in the last year.

There are residents who live close to the operation, he said, and as a result health impacts from emissions need to be considered.

As the Pivniskas come into compliance, Gearhart suggested the dust issues will go away. New laws also are requiring diesel emissions reductions.

“Until they actually have clearance on that property, we can't issue any permits for that operation,” he said.

If their permit eventually is granted, the operation may qualify for state Carl Moyer funding to update some equipment.

When Marilyn Pivniska asked if the temporary crusher would be allowed, Coel said they've issued permits in the past for temporary crushing and that they could tie in the permission with the initial one-year period for coming into compliance.

Swetnam said it's not the first time someone has come before the commission with violations, but he said 19 years was the longest-running violation he'd seen.

“You must come into compliance or I'm probably going to be supporting shutting your business down,” said Swetnam, explaining that “we're spinning our wheels” if they don't make permit holders follow the rules.

Fellow commissioners also offered their support for granting another year for compliance, and Coel asked that they amend the documents to add permission to use the portable crusher.

Swetnam made the motions to approve the mitigated negative declaration and use permit with the one-year compliance requirement. The commission approved the motions 4-0.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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