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On Thursday, Sacramento planning department staff will recommend against requiring a special land use permit for water and beverage bottling companies.
However, city officials and staff will continue to consider creating tiered water rates that could take effect in 2012 or sooner.
Staff from the city's Community Development Department will report to the City Council's Law & Legislation Committee, in response to requests made by council members Kevin McCarty and Lauren Hammond involving Nestlé Waters North America last October.
Bottling plants are permitted in zones approved for light industrial, heavy commercial and heavy industrial businesses in Sacramento. A staff survey found that conditional use permits, which are subject to approval from planning commissions and city councils, aren't required by 28 other California cities with at least one bottling operation. Nestlé operates in only one other city on the list.
"Planning staff finds that a beverage bottling facility is not unique in its water consumption when compared to other commercial and industrial uses and the land use impacts of the use in an industrial zone do not warrant the need for a special permit," staff wrote in a report to the committee.
Officials with the city's Department of Utilities have indicated they'd like to collect water-use data and hire a water rate consultant to help develop a tiered water rate fee structure.
Such data could be available by 2012 as 45,000 residential water customers — about 36 percent of residential clients — transition to metered water rates, according to the report.
McCarty said he will press to implement a tiered structure before 2012 when he soon meets with the city manager's office and utilities department.
"The real issue is what do we charge for our water?" McCarty said Monday. "Water is an increasingly valuable and diminishing commodity, and we ought to be making smart decisions on what we do with our municipal water."
The City Council was not involved in the decision to approve Nestlé opening a plant in McCarty's district in South Sacramento.
The council discussed the plant for the first time Oct. 27 after McCarty and Hammond proposed an emergency ordinance to consider amending the city's zoning code to immediately require a special permit and thus, environmental review, for bottling companies to operate in the city. McCarty also recommended the council consider tiered water rates for such companies.
City Attorney Eileen Teichert told the council that night Nestlé's plant was legal under the city's zoning codes and that a special permit requirement wouldn't apply. At the same time, the Community Development Department's Facilities Permit Program was suspended after the council and city officials learned work had started on the Nestlé plant without a formal building permit or a start-work authorization.
Save Our Water Sacramento, a group formed to oppose the plant, had sought a temporary City Council moratorium on beverage bottling plants in Sacramento at that time.
Hammond, who is on the committee, could not be reached for comment Monday.
The City Council's Law & Legislation Committee meeting will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 915 I St.
Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.