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(a) Approval of Conditional Use Permit, Reclamation Plan, and Financial Assurance Required. Unless exempted by SMARA, State regulations, or Subdivision (b) (Exemptions), below, any person who proposes to engage in surface mining operations shall, before the commencement of the operation, obtain County approval of a Conditional Use Permit, Reclamation Plan, and financial assurances for reclamation in compliance with this Chapter. An exemption from these approval requirements shall not automatically exempt a project or activity from the application of other County regulations, ordinances, or policies (e.g., the application of CEQA; the requirements of Conditional Use Permits or other permits; the payment of development impact fees; the imposition of other dedications and exactions as may be allowed under the law; etc.).
(b) Exemptions. This Chapter shall not apply to the following activities, subject to the exceptions noted in Subdivision (a), above:
(1) Excavations or grading conducted for farming or for the purpose of restoring land following a flood or natural disaster.
(2) Onsite excavation and onsite earthmoving activities that are an integral and necessary part of a construction project and that are undertaken to prepare a site for construction of structures, landscaping, or other land improvements, including the related excavation, grading, compaction, or the creation of fills, road cuts, and embankments, whether or not surplus materials are exported from the site, subject to all of the following conditions:
(A) All required permits for the construction, landscaping, or related land improvements have been approved by a public agency in compliance with applicable provisions of State law and locally adopted plans and ordinances, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
(B) The County’s approval of the construction project:
(I) Is consistent with the General Plan.
(II) Included consideration of the onsite excavation and onsite earthmoving activities in compliance with CEQA.
(C) Surplus materials shall not be exported from the site unless and until the site accepting the surplus materials has also been approved for development according to the appropriate procedures of the agency having land use jurisdiction.
(D) Surplus materials shall not be exported from the site unless and until actual construction work has commenced and shall cease if it is determined that construction activities have terminated, have been indefinitely suspended, or are no longer being actively pursued.
(3) Operation of a plant site used for mineral processing, including associated onsite structures, equipment, machines, tools, or other materials, including the onsite stockpiling and onsite recovery of mined materials, subject to all of the following conditions:
(A) The plant site is located on lands with an appropriate land use zoning district designation commensurate with the activity according to the General Plan (e.g., Regional Industrial (IR), Special Development (SD), etc.).
(B) None of the minerals being processed are being extracted onsite.
(C) Reclamation work has been completed in compliance with the approved Reclamation Plan for mineral extraction activities that occurred onsite after January 1, 1976.
(4) Prospecting for, or the extraction of, minerals for commercial purposes and the removal of overburden in total amounts of less than 1,000 cubic yards in any one location of one acre or less.
(5) Limited surface mining operations that are required by Federal law in order to protect a mining claim, if those operations are conducted solely for that purpose (otherwise known as “assessment work.”)
(6) Other surface mining operations that the State Mining and Geology Board determines to be of an infrequent nature and that involve only minor surface disturbances.
(7) Emergency excavations or grading conducted by the Department of Water Resources or the Reclamation Board for the purpose of averting, alleviating, repairing, or restoring damage to property due to imminent or recent floods, disasters, or other emergencies.
(8) Road construction and maintenance for timber or forest operations, if the land is owned by the same person or entity and if the excavation is conducted adjacent to timber or forest operation roads. This exemption shall only be available if slope stability and erosion are controlled in compliance with State Mining and Geology Board Reclamation Regulations and, upon closure of the site, the person closing the site implements, where necessary, revegetation measures and post-closure uses in consultation with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. This exemption shall not apply to onsite excavation or grading that occurs within 100 feet of a Class One watercourse or 75 feet of a Class Two watercourse, or to excavations for materials that are, or have been, sold for commercial purposes.
(Ord. 4011, passed - -2007)