El Dorado County
Benchmark Resources assisted the El Dorado County Transportation Division with environmental review of the Silver Springs Parkway to Bass Lake Road (South Segment) project, culminating in the preparation of a final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) that was certified by the County Board of Supervisors in August 2016. Benchmark Resources provided CEQA compliance strategy, public outreach, analysis, document preparation, and hearings support to the County. The Silver Springs Parkway will provide an important new regional road connection in the County, consistent with development commitments and the County General Plan circulation element. The Benchmark Resources team prepared traffic, noise, air quality, hydrology/water quality, and biological resources impacts analyses; reviewed the project against the goals and policies of the County General Plan; and prepared an EIR that clearly documented project impacts and feasible mitigation strategies for the project. Benchmark Resources provided support to County staff in preparing CEQA findings and a presentation to the County Board of Supervisors and assisted County Transportation Division management in presenting the EIR and the project to the Board for certification and approval. El Dorado County originally approved the Silver Springs Parkway (as the Bass Lake Road Realignment Project) in the 1980s; however, substantial residential development had occurred in the area since that original approval and certain design modifications were under consideration. Due to design modifications since the original approval, Benchmark Resources and the County recognized the need to update the CEQA document.
Construction of Silver Springs Parkway requires acquisition of rights-of-way from several properties. In light of voiced resistance from a property owner, it was anticipated that condemnation through eminent domain could be necessary and that the environmental document could be subject to legal challenges.
Through Benchmark Resources’ coordination with County Counsel and presentation of a range of options for the environmental document, it was determined that a subsequent EIR (SEIR) would provide for the most effective disclosure and legally defensible document to update the previously certified Bass Lake Road Realignment project EIR. The process proved beneficial in creating opportunities for communicating information to the public, fostering meaningful public input, and ultimately achieving widespread community support. The SEIR also served as the most comprehensive CEQA document option which avoided challenges that otherwise could have been made against a lesser supplement or addendum to the previously certified EIR. Ultimately, the SEIR proved to be an efficient and comprehensive approach to updating the CEQA review and the County was able to proceed with the project free from CEQA litigation.