After being cited by the state for violations of federal and state environmental laws, local engineer and business owner Kevin McKenny on Thursday resigned from the Humboldt County Planning Commission.

 

McKenny is a licensed civil engineer who owns KH McKenny Construction Inc. in Eureka. He has served on several local boards and commissions including the City Of Eureka Building Appeals Board, Humboldt Community Services District Board of Directors and the Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission. He has served on the planning commission for more than four years.

 

Inspections by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found McKenny had developed the property without proper permitting and allowing illegal discharge of waste on the Third Slough, which is a tributary of the Eureka Slough and Humboldt Bay. The violations cited in the inspections included installing pipes and drains in the slough floodplain, which Thompson said they hypothesize were installed to remove water from the site to allow for development.

Part of the cleanup order will require McKenny to explain why the pipes and drains were installed.

 

“We want to hear from him on why he put the pipes there,” Thompson said.

 

Other violations cited include illegal grading of a wetland, removal of riparian habitat and pushing slash and waste into riparian areas.

 

Last week, three local environmental groups — Environmental Protection Information Center, Northcoast Environmental Center and Humboldt Baykeeper called for McKenny to resign from the Planning Commission after the state cited him for violations such as illegal grading, floodplain drainage and disposal.

 

“His conduct is not befitting an individual on the Planning Commission, particularly as the county moves to enforce violations of the its cannabis land use ordinance,” the groups’ May 11 statement reads. “Therefore, our organizations call for his immediate resignation. Should Mr. McKenny fail to resign, we ask that the Board of Supervisors remove him from his position.

 

“... We deserve Planning Commissioners who understand and respect local, state, and federal environmental protections,” the statement says in conclusion.

 

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5/8/18

Eureka, Calif. — EPIC, the Northcoast Environmental Center, and Humboldt Baykeeper call for the resignation of Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Kevin McKenny. As reported by the Lost Coast Outpost, in a Notice of Violation dated January 9, 2018, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board placed Mr. McKenny on notice that he violated numerous federal and state laws. He is accused of grading within a floodplain, removing riparian vegetation, placing slash and waste into riparian areas, and draining a federally recognized wetland adjacent to Third Slough, a Humboldt Bay tributary just outside Eureka city limits. Mr. McKenny has acknowledged his “mistake.” 

 

But this is more than a mistake. From the site inspection report, it appears that Mr. McKenny deliberately sought to drain the wetland with the apparent intent to develop the site. Further, Mr. McKenny appeared to use heavy machinery to fill other areas of the wetland. Mr. McKenny was previously warned that his activities violated the law, yet he continued his harmful actions.

 

The allegations against Mr. McKenny are serious. His conduct is not befitting an individual on the Planning Commission, particularly as the County moves to enforce violations of the its cannabis land use ordinance. Therefore, our organizations call for his immediate resignation. Should Mr. Mc Kenny fail to resign, we ask that the Board of Supervisors remove him from his position. 

 

It is estimated that 90% of the wetlands in Humboldt County were destroyed before their importance was understood and protections put in place. Wetlands improve water quality by filtering polluted runoff and provide critical wildlife habitat. 

 

Mr. McKenny knows that draining, grading, and filling wetlands require permits from at least four agencies — including Humboldt County. The Planning Commission’s responsibility is to protect public health, safety, and welfare. We deserve Planning Commissioners who understand and respect local, state, and federal environmental protections. 

 

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4/28/18

 

Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Kevin McKenny likely violated the federal Clean Water Act, the California Water Code and other environmental regulations last fall when he conducted unauthorized construction activity on a 4.5-acre parcel he owns just outside Eureka city limits, according to a Notice of Violation from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

 

The notice, issued January 9, says that during an inspection of the parcel this past November, staff from the water board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that grading had been done to the floodplain; riparian vegetation had been removed; slash and waste had been pushed into riparian areas; and a drain with least three underground outfall pipes had been installed without proper authorization. 

 

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4/23/18

 

The city of Eureka announced today that fledgling efforts to bring cruise ships to Humboldt Bay have been successful, with the first such ship arriving Monday, May 21. According to its press release, the city, in association with the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, formed a partnership with Eureka Main Street, the Eureka Visitor Center and former city council candidate Chet Albin "to strategically recruit cruise ships to Humboldt  Bay." 

 

Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper, told the Journal that cruise ships can provide some environmental challenges because they are not subject to local or state laws regarding the dumping of wastewater, although more commonly they discharge wastewater in the open ocean. Humboldt County also prohibits the dumping of ballast water in the bay as it may carry invasive invertebrates that can threaten local water health. But Kalt adds that Baykeeper does not have an official position on the marketing strategy of attracting cruise ships to the region, and what — if any — environmental impacts becoming a cruise ship destination might have.

 

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4/18/18

After months of negotiations regarding concerns over the potential for drinking water contamination, Mercer-Fraser Company will withdraw its permit application to build a cannabis concentrate manufacturing facility in Glendale.

The April 17 letter from Mercer-Fraser’s attorney Adam Guernsey of the Harrison, Temblador, Hungerford & Johnson law firm states that the company is withdrawing the permit “at this time” because the water district’s actions have “rendered a fair hearing impossible at this time.”

Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt, who has opposed the project, questioned whether the project will be withdrawn for good.

“Without further information, I don’t see how this is any guarantee we won’t see this project again in the future,” Kalt said. “Bad projects have a way of coming back to life after you think they’re resolved.”

Friedenbach said a withdrawn permit can always be brought back, and if it does in this case the district will likely oppose it again.

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