Sweeney responds to claim that he ‘dissed’ miners
District 3 Supervisor Jack Sweeney responds to Big Cut Mine co-owner Rick Churches after Monday’s Taxpayers Association meeting. Churches said Sweeney had refused to talk to him on at least two occasions at public functions. The mine, near Placerville, is in Sweeney’s District.
Supervisor Jack Sweeney responded:
“I do not like to discuss matters of litigation in public meetings; especially when the other party has the floor and already has steadfastly alleged that the laws do not apply to them.
“Mr. Churches even chose to ignore the section of the Patent that he handed out that forewarned that the laws regarding mining were changing and they would be subject to State Legislation!
“First, I strongly support jobs in this county! I support mining and timbering. If the Feds would authorize more mining and timbering we would not have a National Debt! Ten years of just harvesting a bit less than the annual growth would pay off the National Debt!
“But to the matter at hand.
“The concerns raised by me were that the mine folks needed to apply for permits to mine as any vested rights were given up by their predecessor in interest at least in 1998!
“Mr. Churches never mentions that the previous owner of the mine at the time (one Clinton Donovan) signed statements or reports on June 4,1998, and June 24, 1999, indicating ‘mine closed and no intent to mine.’ I believe you have received these letters from my assistant.
“This county is conflicted by an ordinance adopted by the voters on Nov. 6, 1984. Implementation of that voter initiative is found in County Ordinance Section 17.14.095. This ordinance states, in part: “that all boundaries of the proposed project for open pit mining or strip mining shall be greater than a linear distance of ten thousand feet (10,000’) from any existing residential use, hospital use, church use, or school use.” That measure passed by 16,630 for and 1,042 against. That is also when I was first elected to the Board of Supervisors.
“Any application to reopen the Big Cut Mine would certainly raise a conflict as between a California requirement to protect mineral lands and our County Ordinance. And the applicants would be the real parties in interest paying for any lawsuit.
“This matter was brought to my attention by numerous neighbors that bought their lands based on the mine being closed and now feel that their rights have been violated.
“I hesitate to predict the outcome, but suspect the mineral protection laws (California Code of Regulations 3675-3676) would prevail, but the environmental protection laws would make it impractical to mine, especially open pit!