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Council OKs propane facility plan

Distribution plant will be built off Highway 174
By: Kathy Ito, Colfax Record Correspondent
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Colfax City Council members last week approved plans for a propane distribution facility to be built off Highway 174. The facility will be located on 1.74 acres next to Schwartz Construction Co. JS West Propane, a family-owned business headquartered in Modesto, has been seeking approval for a distribution facility in Colfax since 2002. Founded in 1909, the company currently serves approximately 1,500 area customers from their Rocklin and Auburn facilities. “We want a facility in the Colfax area to better serve our existing customers and to provide the area with competitive pricing and service alternatives,” explained JS West Vice President Mike West. The Colfax facility would “reduce our carbon footprint by having storage closer to customers,” added Vice President Jill Benson. The updated plan addressed environmental concerns raised by neighbors in April 2010. “The revised plan now meets or exceeds all federal, state, and local safety requirements and regulations,” said Charlie Eadie, land use consultant for JS West. To mitigate the safety issues raised last year, the 30,000- and 14,000-gallon storage tanks will be placed 303 feet away from the railroad tracks, which border one side of the property, Eadie explained. In addition, redundant fail-safe design features will automatically shut down operations to prevent and/or minimize release of propane in the event of an emergency. JS West Propane safety consultant Al Linder explained the safety measures being put in place. “Radiant heat is the only potential impact from a fire,” Linder said. “The heat effects would be countered by the tank’s pressure relief system and design.” In addition, vegetation barriers will reduce the risk of wildfire encroaching on the facility, Linder continued. Since the proposed facility is outside of the city’s sewer system, septic tanks will be installed in compliance with easement and health and safety guidelines. Five employees will work at the facility. Still, not everyone was pleased with the plan. “Jill Benson of JS West worked really hard with us to work out all issues,” said Jeannie Claxton, whose family owns the adjacent property. “We are grateful for what they did, but we still don’t want the tanks.” The council also agreed to apply for a $240,000 Economic Development grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development to promote economic revitalization of Colfax businesses. If awarded, the funds would be used to establish a revolving loan fund. In order to qualify for a loan, a business must show either the creation of new jobs or the need to retain a permanent job, principally for low-income individuals. The city would also be able to offer micro-assistance or start up loans to local businesses owned and operated by low-income individuals.  In other business, council: • Approved downtown street closures for the March 20 Colfax Criterion. Streets will be closed to vehicle traffic from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more event information, visit the Northern California Nevada Cycling Association web site at http://ncnca. org/ncncaevent/colfax-criterium-0 • Approved changes to the city’s municipal code that streamlines the process for obtaining building and improvement permits within city limits. The ordnance will go into effect in March 2011.