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Can a Willits log yard win favor for expansion?
Monday, February 20, 2023
A pre-meeting brief on the next city council meeting
Willits’ winter wonderland.
City gov’t | Pre-meeting coverage
Willits City Council meets Wednesday at 6:30 PM.
The council will discuss a zoning change at the old Quail Meadows campground to accommodate expansion of a current log yard.
A future decision in favor of the applicant would allow the log yard to expand into a 20-acre area, but the council is not set for a vote Wednesday and will likely hear comments from the public.
Expansion would include a 1-million-gallon pond, another half-million gallon pond, water tanks and a system to recycle water applied to the log decks.
The applicant, San Hedrin Timber Company, is asking to change zoning from a certain commercial designation to heavy industrial—and would not be the first zoning change or proposal over the years.
This is background information from the city, sorry it’s long:
CITY OF WILLITS: Past planning entitlements have been approved for the project site including Zoning Text Amendment ZTA90-3 and Zone Change ZC-90-3. The approved Zone Change, ZC-90-3, amended the Zoning Map of APN 108-040-11 from Community Commercial (C-1) to Heavy Commercial (C-2). The approved Zoning Text Amendment ZTA-90-3 amended Chapter 17.24.030 of the Willits Municipal Code to include the 34A Use Group, Indoor Wholesaling and Storage, as a conditional use in the Heavy Commercial (C-2) zone. A Preapplication PAC 20-01 was submitted to allow for a similar log yard expansion project on APN 108-040- 11, subsequently, a Zone Change application (ZC 21-01) and General Plan Amendment application (GPA 21-01) were submitted and withdrawn. Other applications submitted and withdrawn associated with APN 108-040-11 include Zone Change ZC 17-02, and General Plan Amendment GPA 17-02, both applications proposed a change from commercial to residential land use designation to create a 45-lot subdivision. No land entitlements are associated with the existing timber log yard operation by North Fork Lumber Company located at the address 3 Casteel Lane in Willits.
On-the-ground log yard operations, the goods and employees, are part of North Fork Lumber.
It’s hard to say for sure how the family of businesses associated with the log yard bound legally.
But the Schmidbauer family, either figuratively or literally, includes an active sawmill in Eureka, North Fork Lumber in Korbel (think Blue Lake) and Trinity River Lumber, Weaverville.
Not a fly-by-night operator, this is a business that has the means to run successful modern sawmills.
North Fork Lumber emerged in Korbel when a sawmill that closed in 2015, reopened in 2018 after renovation.
WHAT: Council meeting
WHEN: Wednesday at 6:30 PM
WHERE: City Hall, 111 East Commercial Street
Loaded up and truckin’
Mendo log trade explained
If you look around, a number of log yards have sprang up in the county in the time that an overseas exported began operating at the log yard near Willits High School.
Not all are long-lived. Exact dates of operation are not confirmed, but you will get the idea:
Brookings, Oregon-based South Coast Lumber operated a log yard on a portion of the old Masonite property near Ukiah.
From there, the Oregon lumber company forwarded those logs to its sawmill in Brookings.
Oftentimes logs from a log yard like the one in Willits are stacked onto lumber trailers with strap on bunks to carry logs on the haul north.
When a log yard first appeared in Willits back in about 2013 it was operated by MDI Forest Products, an exporter of sawlogs to the Asian market.
Around the same time a short lived yard popped up among the pear orchards near Talmage on the east side of the Russian River.
Mendocino Redwood Company and its sister company Humboldt Redwood, the former Pacific Lumber Company, transport logs between sawmills in Calpella and Scotia; most often sending large diameter logs north and small diameter logs south.
Another log yard had popped up in Humboldt County near Alton on Highway 36.
As an observation, a good portion of the logs held at the Willits log yard are harvested on Redwood Empire holdings in the Covelo area–you would take the Mina Road to get there.
What else happens Wednesday?
Council members will consider a contract with Ukiah-based BAS Roofing to reroof City Hall and the Art Center building.
At city hall, the contracts include $25,000 to replace 25 skylights and $58,300 for the roofing. The Art Center would be approved for $26,250.
No other roofing outfits responded to the city’s request, a written report from the city stated.
Director of Finance Manuel Orozco presents a thorough list budget adjustments for council members to consider.
Orozco’s report is in the agenda packet on page 43.
A 40-year lease with aviator Mike Smith for his new building is on the agenda. The city has been working with Smith and pertinent agencies to gain approval of a new 60 by 80 foot hangar at the airport.
Smith operates a wildfire observation and scouting business.
It looks like the city will be stepping up its in-house software game if the council approves a contract with Springbrook software.
CITY OF WILLITS: The functionality of the Springbrook Software System will provide the Finance and Human Resources Departments a system that will provide comprehensive Financials, Payroll Needs, Human Resources functions, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Utility Billing needs for the entire City.
Springbrook’s services will cost $64,320 initially with an annual fee of $34,290, the city stated.
Times are changing: Council members will consider approving a use policy for the city’s athletic fields.
Willits’ athletic field holdings include a soccer field and two baseball diamonds adjacent to the Roots of Motive Power yard.
The policy also seeks to manage two older ball fields on the southside of Commercial Street as well as the field where the 4th of July carnival operates.
The carnival grounds were once Lofling Field.
The policy looks at how scheduling disputes can be settled, who has priority (Willits residents do) and defines responsible behavior to include picking up litter and so on.
Insurance requirements are part of the equation: $2 million of liability insurance and coverage of sexual abuse.
If approved, the athletic field use policy would be the first city policy addressing management of athletic fields.
An excerpt from a proposed policy for the city’s athletic fields:
CITY OF WILLITS: To establish policies and procedures governing the use of City parks and fields. o To ensure Willits residents have priority access to fields.
To incorporate “turf recovery period” to maintain safe, quality grass fields.
To provide for a variety of activities reflecting the athletic preferences of Willits residents.
To collect fees for the use of fields, in support of their ongoing maintenance.
To ensure that decisions regarding the use of City parks and athletic fields balance the interests of the neighborhoods, sports organizations and residents of Willits.
To ensure that appropriate uses are permitted on appropriate fields.
While observing the ice last Wednesday morning one could be found speaking superlatively of a Winter Wonderland that sparkled like a frosty townscape inside the glass sphere of a snow globe.
Little Lake Valley was a sight to see!
“The fog is frozen!” said one Willits man who just stepped out of his car.
Would C.S. Lewis’ White Witch appear in her sleigh to an admirer of an oak tree’s icy moss?
Indeed, if you were not there, airborne moisture had certainly froze and floated around like miniature weightless flakes of snow.
Here is the low temperatures recorded that day by four Willits-area online weather stations:
Timberline Road at Middle Road: 29°F
Brooktrails Drive at Sherwood Road: 23.2°F
South Main at East SF Avenue: 22.3°F
Valley Road at Davis Lane: 18.7°F
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Written and compiled by Zack Cinek | 707 613 0369 | email@example.com | Mail: 75 N MAIN ST #121 Willits CA 95490
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