Residents of Twin Oaks asked Kern County Planning Department officials repeatedly if the City of Vernon had a wind energy project in the wings and were unequivocally told “no.”
Yes, it does. And Kern planning officials have known about it all along.
Lying is bad enough from anyone, but when it comes from the very people you’re paying to make sure projects are done correctly, it’s unacceptable.
Someone ought to be fired for this. Seriously.
“Chris Mynck (one of Planning’s point people on wind) told me to go home and stop losing sleep because there were no new projects in this area,” Twin Oaks resident Susan Paris said at a recent meeting of the Friends of Piute.
“What can we do when they just lie to us?”
I also asked about Vernon, starting last Monday and leaving messages throughout the week.
Finally, Craig Murphy, wind division chief, called me back at 4:20 p.m. Friday.
He claimed to know nothing of Vernon’s project.
Vernon’s flak was just as evasive, saying the city was still “weighing options.”
Bull pucky. Minutes from Vernon’s City Council meeting Sept. 20, 2011 show its consultant was set to begin an EIR in December and have it ready for public comment by June 2012.
Vernon expected to begin construction on the whopping 175 megawatt project by February 2013.
Previous minutes in June and April of 2011 show the consultants and vendors had been in “constructive communication” with the Kern Planning and Building departments, and had begun pulling permits to put up towers to collect wind data and map their turbine placement.
Clearly, this thing is getting off the ground and our folks knew about it every step of he way.
Considering the City of Vernon is a public entity and wouldn’t pay property taxes, nor would it have to abide by Kern’s environmental hoops, I wondered why our Planning Department was so accommodating and secretive on its behalf.
I asked Murphy if Kern had worked out some kind of deal, and again got the Sgt. Schultz routine.
Then shortly after 2 p.m. on Saturday, Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt emailed me to say that Murphy hadn’t had all the info (no kidding).
“The City of Vernon recorded a deed restriction on all property they own in Kern County that states that our zoning must be used and we are the lead agency for CEQA for any development.”
That was done last year, she wrote. (CEQA is the California Environmental Quality Act, and being lead agency means Kern gets to call the shots.)
She said, per that agreement, Vernon could not have begun the environmental process. Uh huh. At this point, I’m gonna trust those minutes from Vernon’s council meeting.
She ended by saying she was sorry I was so negative about the proposed wind resources map going before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday and that the county really is trying to address resident concerns in a proactive way.
Wow. I’d hate to see how residents are treated when the county isn’t trying to be so “proactive.”
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