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Screenshot from Planning Commission meeting.

Humboldt County Planning Commissioner Kevin McKenny has resigned from his seat after being cited for violating state and federal environmental laws on a Eureka parcel he owns. 

McKenny, a construction company owner, was first issued a Notice of Alleged Violations on his 4.5 acre parcel back on January 9. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board issued the notice, which says inspectors from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers toured the property in November and found un-permitted grading, vegetation removal and construction, including the installation of a drain and underground outfall pipes.

McKenny admitted to doing the work. “In basic terms I made a mistake there,” he told the Outpost last month.

After the violations came to light, local environmental groups EPIC, the Northcoast Environmental Center, and Humboldt Baykeeper called for McKenny to resign. The Times-Standard‘s Will Houston was the first to report that he’d done just that. 

Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass, who appointed McKenny to the commission in February 2014, forwarded a statement to the Outpost this afternoon:

Mr. McKenny and I have talked several times regarding this issue. While he, like everyone else, is afforded due process to bring this issue to resolution, he has decided that it is in the best interest to resign from the planning commission, so as to not let the issue become a distraction from the hard work that lies ahead for the commission.

Additionally the county has some work to do as I believe the county has some culpability regarding the situation. It has been discovered that an existing culvert that carried the water from the stream underneath Lucas street and the properties across the street had apparently pulled apart some time ago which in effect may have been a contributing factor to wetlands issues on the property.

McKenny told the Outpost last month that none of the work done on his property resulted in pollution to state waters, but a report from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board found that the newly installed underground pipes would likely alter the property’s hydrology, negatively impacting wetland soils.  

The agency issued a Cleanup and Abatement Order to McKenny on April 30, noting his failure to obtain the required permits from the county, the regional water board, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

McKenny will be required to “clean up the wastes and abate the impacts to water quality” on his parcel and obtain all necessary permits before doing the work.

His tenure on the Planning Commission was controversial from the get-go as local residents questioned McKenny’s management of a Eureka parcel that for years hosted the rotting corpse of The Downtowner Motel. The property was eventually renovated and converted into a senior housing project called The Lodge, built by Danco.

A call to McKenny this afternoon went unanswered.

Bass didn’t indicate when she might select another appointee for the Humboldt County Planning Commission.