Excerpts from J. Pelton’s “Open Letter to Planning Commission Re Blue Lead Mine” (April 25, 2010):
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MEMBERS OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION:
Thank you for allowing additional time, at least until your next meeting on May 27th, before deciding on the vested rights application from the Blue Lead Mine. I have read all of the written materials and letters that were posted on the Commission’s website. I stayed through the entire meeting on April 22nd, and listened carefully to verbal comments from the lawyers and from members of the public.
This much is abundantly clear:
BURDEN OF PROOF: Blue Lead has not met its burden of proof. It is not up to the Planning Commission to show that the former owners had or lost a vested right. Rather, it is up to Blue Lead to prove that the legal right to mine existed in 1954 for each parcel (this is still an open question), what kind of mining and, further, that the right if it existed was not lost when the former owners were unable, for whatever reason, to “get it (their mining project) off the ground” to quote Blue Lead’s lawyer, Mr. Chadwick.
… OFFICE OF MINE RECLAMATION: The representatives from OMR were correct in saying that Blue Lead can’t have it both ways: if there was continuous legal mining at the site, even allowing for idle periods, but the required procedures including annual reporting were not followed then big fines have accrued and are payable now. If, however, the vested right was lost due to inactivity by the former owners, and Tucker White started a new, unpermitted operation in 2007, then big fines have accrued and are payable now. OMR has received many complaints from Nevada County residents about the Blue Lead Mine since 2007. If Nevada County enforcement of mining regulations is lacking, the State Office of Mine Reclamation can and will step in.
… ZONING: The site is not zoned for mining, a further indication that legal mining was not occurring at that site. Attorney Robert Joehnck points out that “future mining activity was prohibited when the zoning classification was applied to the property by the County, unless a conditional use permit was first obtained by someone wanting to pursue mining activities”. There is no indication that such a permit was ever obtained.
MINERAL RIGHTS: Attorney Ellison Folk points out that the property title conveyed in the quiet title judgment in 1966 excludes mineral deposits that were known to exist prior to 1878.
Read full letter here.