Rob Beringer Tuesday asked Cowlitz County commissioners to overturn a hearing examiner’s decision to award another permit to a surface mining company operating near his Ostrander home and horse farm.
He also asked for the immediate resignation of Elaine Placido, director of the County Building and Planning Department, which handled the permit application.
Commissioner Arne Mortensen told Beringer that he would not support firing Placido.
“As a county, we are quite in good luck having her. I have no complaints, and I have no intention to support any move to dismiss her. She’s a value to the county,” Mortensen said.
Commissioner Joe Gardner said after the commissioner’s meeting that he supported Hearing Examiner Mark Scheibmeir’s July decision to award another five-year special use permit to Nutter Corp. to mine Mount St. Helens dredge spoils just north of Beringer’s property off Pleasant Hill Road.
Rob and Alessa Beringer told The Daily News last week that they were outraged to see Nutter receive another permit after allegedly violating the terms of its previous permit and continuing to operate after its permit expired in 2012. The Beringers, who live across West Stock Road from Nutter’s 60-acre property at 3515 Pleasant Hill Road, said the company operated at all hours of the day, illegal dumped vacuum truck waste and tracked oil and mud over West Stock Road.
Scheibmeir found that Nutter had been openly hostile to governmental regulation and was unrepentant for its conduct. But, on the recommendation of Placido’s department, awarded the Clark County company a new five-year permit anyway.
Rob Beringer said he was frustrated that Placido knew about his concerns and still recommended a 20-year permit for the Vancouver-based contractor. Scheibmeir reduced the permit to five years in his ruling.
Gardner said in an interview that the commissioners can’t overrule Scheibmeir’s decision, but Beringer could appeal the ruling in Superior Court.
“(Scheibmeir) put some very strict conditions in the permit. I have faith that the department will make sure that those are adhered to,” he said.
He added that he has “a lot of faith” in Placido who is a good leader for the county and that he will not support her termination.
“We’d like to sit down with Mr. Beringer and continue talking to him. He’s been very clear about his concerns. We want to reassure him the best we can that we’re going to hold Nutter to the conditions in that permit. If they can’t adhere to the conditions, the hearing examiner will be notified immediately.”