The proposed rezoning of approximately 771 acres on the slopes of Mt. Shasta has garnered the attention of some Siskiyou County residents. However, planning officials say it’s  early in the process to become overly anxious.

The proposed rezoning of approximately 771 acres on the slopes of Mt. Shasta has garnered the attention of some Siskiyou County residents. However, planning officials say it’s  early in the process to become overly anxious.

The land, which is owned by the Roseburg Resources Company, is currently a Timberland Production Zone. The proposed rezoning to Rural Residential Agricultural would allow for the land to be subdivided into parcels with a 40 acre minimum, according to county documents.

The site abuts the Mt. Shasta Ski Park to the southeast and is near Bunny Flat on its northwestern corner. A portion of it is about a mile away from Panther Meadows.

Though the word was spreading early this week that comments on the project must be received by Friday, Siskiyou County Planning Department deputy director Greg Plucker said this is not the case.

“The May 27 date is only for local and state reviewing agencies to respond as the first step of this project. There will be ample opportunities for the public to give comment,” said Plucker.

Plucker added that the planning department has not even begun its analysis, so its difficult for him to answer specific questions about the land’s potential development. He said the project application review is the very first in a series of steps which would need to be completed before such a rezoning could take place.

Vicki Gold, a board member of the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, said  her organization wants Roseburg and Siskiyou County to know that “the community will be up in arms if this project is allowed to move forward.”

“We want to act immediately,” Gold said.

Though there will be other opportunities for comment, the Bioregional Ecology Center wants to act now to stomp the project out as soon as possible, she added.

“Panther Meadows is the jewel... it’s the most sacred place on the mountain. [Development of the site] is something we cannot allow to happen. We will not be another Mammoth,” said Gold.

Plucker said since it’s so early in the process, he couldn’t speculate on the site’s potential development density if it were rezoned.

“We haven’t even begun our analysis. Part of that process would be to determine what could happen under the existing zoning as compared to the proposed zoning.”

Gold pointed out that the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center was founded in the 1980s to stop development on this very parcel.

“Michelle Berditschevsky was one of the founders of the Center, which was originally called ‘Save Mt. Shasta,’” Gold said. “We never expected this to come up again. We have tremendous concerns.”

At this time, the land is a TPZ, and is reserved for the production of timber, according to the Siskiyou County code of ordinances. Landowners pay an annual property tax, but the assessed value of TPZ land is valued for the cultivation of timber, resulting in a lower tax assessment. In return for the lower assessment, the landowner must manage the property for timber and compatible uses for a minimum of 10 years.

Approximately 77 percent of California’s 7.4 million acres of private forestlands is zoned TPZ, according to the Sierra Business Council. In 2000, Siskiyou County had 568,585 acres of TPZ land.

“This is very, very early in the process for us to be getting so many comments,” Plucker said on Monday. “We want the process to be as accessible to the public as possible. This is generally a four to six month process, with multiple opportunities for the public to review and comment.”

After the planing department analyzes the project and environmental impact reviews are conducted, the rezoning would go through a public review and commenting process. The very last step would be with the Board of Supervisors, who would also hold at least two public hearings on the matter.

Plucker invites anyone who would like more information to contact him at 842-2100, or by emailing gplucker@co.siskiyou.ca.us