Coal for the County

The “tentative map” for Ascente was approved in June. But, before the blasting and the grading, the developers (Paul Tanguay and Michael Barnes) need to get the “final map” approved by the county staff. There are 134 “conditions of acceptance” that need to be addressed in the final map. One of them is a geo-technical study to identify and locate earthquake faults so that homes are not built on the faults. We know the area is very geologically active: home locations in the estates were selected to avoid faults going through the property.
Last fall, the developers used an engineering company (Lumos) to dig trenches to locate, track, and characterize faults on the Ascente property.  Two of our resident geologists took a look at their trenches and also one of the rock core samples from their drilling. The work was quite rushed, and most trenches were filled the same day they were dug. This was convenient to prevent any oversight. These are the problems in the fault study that our geologists identified from what they could see.

  • The engineer overseeing the work is not a geologist qualified for this work.
  • The trenches were not “open” long enough to be properly studied.
  • The engineer claimed that one fault discovered was over a million years old when that is patently untrue (They get to build on “old” faults).
  • One of the trenches appears to have missed the nearby fault completely.
  • Not enough trenches were dug to accurately plot the faults.
  • The trenches were not shored-up to be safe to work in. This is a critical safety issue.
  • The core sample (near Patti Lane) showed clear fault activity.
  • One of the equipment operators said that the study concluded that there were no faults on the property. Implausible, and demonstrably untrue.

It’s a big deal. There is a good chance that having an accurate fault map would substantially reduce the number of homes that can be built. That would cut into their profit margin and reduce our traffic.
Kris Hemlein, one of our geologists, wrote a detailed letter to the county staff addressing the problems with the developer’s geological study. She shared it with our Planning Commissioner, Mike Lawson, who said he will review it with the county staff to be sure it gets due attention. Mike, remember, is the only planning commissioner to vote against Ascente.

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