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(a) No surface mining shall be conducted pursuant to a Major Use Permit or pursuant to a vested nonconforming right unless prior to commencement an Agreement has been entered into whereby the operator agrees to reclaim the land in accordance with the Reclamation Plan and which allows the County to enter the property to correct any landscaping or irrigation system deficiencies, any unsafe condition, or any breach of provisions of the Major Use Permit and/or Reclamation Plan.
(b) The Agreement shall authorize the County or any person authorized by the County to enter the property at a mutually agreeable time and after having given the mining operator or permittee a minimum 24 hour notice, to perform an inspection at least once each calendar year, as mandated by the State, or follow-up inspections as a result of the once a year inspections. The Agreement shall also authorize the County or any person authorized by the County to enter the property at any reasonable time to investigate any suspected violation of any condition of the Major Use Permit or Reclamation Plan and/or for emergency abatement of hazardous conditions. Said Agreement shall be executed by the permittee, the owner of the property and by holders of any lien upon the property which could ripen into a fee, other than government entities. The permittee shall provide acceptable evidence of title showing all existing legal and equitable interests in the property. The Director of Planning and Development Services is hereby authorized to execute and accept the Agreement on behalf of the County. The Agreement shall be recorded before any mining is done.
(c) The Agreement shall be secured by financial assurances as follows:
(1) Pursuant to Section 2773.1 of SMARA, financial assurances shall be provided in an amount as specified in subsection (d), to assure that the site is reclaimed in accordance with the requirements of the approved Reclamation Plan. The assurance shall be made payable to the Director of Planning and Development Services and the California Department of Conservation and may take the form of surety bonds, irrevocable letters of credit, trust funds, or other forms of financial assurance adopted by the State Mining and Geology Board, which the County reasonably determines will be readily available to pay for reclamation in accordance with the surface mining operation's approved Reclamation Plan.
(2) The County Official may also require that additional, separate security be provided pursuant to Section 7362.a of the Zoning Ordinance, to insure the performance of conditions of a major use permit for a surface mining operation or a reclamation plan, other than the obligation to reclaim the site in accordance with the Reclamation Plan.
(d) The financial assurances required by paragraph (c)(1) shall be in an amount equal to the estimated cost to reclaim, in accordance with the requirements of the approved Reclamation Plan, all disturbed, unreclaimed lands and all acreage expected to be disturbed in the forthcoming year, to a condition that will not constitute a danger to the public health or safety and that will provide for the type of reclamation required in the Reclamation Plan. The surface mining operator or permittee shall provide an estimate of the cost of reclamation prepared by a state-registered civil engineer. All financial assurances shall be forwarded to the California Department of Conservation for review at least 45 days prior to County approval. The Director of Planning and Development Services shall review all financial assurance estimates and shall approve those that are sufficient. The estimate must be submitted not later than July 1st of each year. If the operator or permittee does not submit this estimate by the required deadline, the County may calculate an estimate of assurance. The staff time spent calculating this estimate will be charged against the inspection deposit. The financial assurance shall be provided to the County within 60 days of notification of the Director of Planning and Development Services' approval of the financial assurance amount.
(e) The amount specified in paragraph (d) shall be adjusted annually to account for new lands disturbed or expected to be disturbed in the forthcoming year by surface mining operations, inflation, and reclamation of lands accomplished in accordance with the approved Reclamation Plan. In no event shall the amount of assurance required be construed as a limitation on the liability of the permittee.
(f) The surface mining operator or permittee, and the surety(ies) providing financial assurances, shall continue to be firmly bound under a continuing obligation for the payment of all necessary costs and expenses that may be incurred or expended by the County in causing any and all work covered by the assurances to be done. When reclamation has been completed in accordance with the approved Reclamation Plan, financial assurances pursuant to paragraph (c)(1) above shall no longer be required and shall be released, upon written notification by the County, which shall be forwarded to the surface mining operator or the permittee and the Director of Conservation. Financial assurances provided pursuant to paragraph (c)(2) above shall be released and returned upon completion of the covered work or performance of applicable conditions. In the case of a cash deposit, any unused portion thereof shall be refunded to the surface mining operator or permittee.
(g) The County must be notified no less than 180 days prior to cancellation of any financial assurance. The County may seek the forfeiture of such financial assurance if new assurance is not posted at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the financial assurance.
(h) If a mining operation is sold or ownership is transferred to another person, the existing financial assurances shall remain in force and shall not be released by the lead agency until new financial assurances are secured from the new owner and have been approved by the County.
(i) The County Official is authorized to terminate and release the Agreement and the right of entry, and to execute all documents necessary to effectuate such termination and release, upon determining that all required reclamation work and other obligations of the Agreement have been completed to the County Official's satisfaction.
(Added by Ord. No. 9547 (N.S.), effective 5-9-03; amended by Ord. No. 9634 (N.S.), effective 4-23-04; amended by Ord. No. 10224 (N.S.), effective 10-25-12)