Imperial Lakes resident James Taylor can only speculate why Union Pacific withdrew the application to build an industrial unloading facility right across the residential community where he and some other 20 homeowners live.
“We are pleased that they withdrew (the application). I’m assuming they saw we were organized,” said Taylor, who added he’s grateful to the Imperial County officials for listening and to Union Pacific for realizing its plans would negatively impact the community “and chose not to.”
The application process was withdrawn by Union Pacific early last week after months of studies and an Environmental Evaluation Committee meeting in June, which had numerous Imperial Lakes residents posing concerns and questioning the project that didn’t even reach the Planning Commission.
“There were concerns about noise, air quality, suitability of the location, impacts to biological resources including wildlife, impacts to archaeological cultural resources – there are various artifacts, tools Native Americans used there,” said attorney Karen ZoBell, who represented Imperial Lakes residents.
Even county air quality control officers disputed data presented by Union Pacific during the environmental impact review, said Taylor, while noting there were other discrepancies and erroneous assumptions found in the studies presented by the Union Pacific.
The county’s review process worked, said resident Ken Justo, who commended the county for having “great public servants.”
Justo was also grateful, he said, “especially for the people that live here year-round. I’m happy they realize that wasn’t a good fit for us.”
Jim DeVito, president of the Imperial Lakes Home Association, said he was happy, just like other homeowners, but he acknowledged that though “everybody wants their cell phones to work, nobody wants their cell phone tower in their own backyard.”
He added that Imperial Lakes residents are by no means against progress; however, he believes progress should take place in a place that is safe and amicable to all.
“We don’t want to stop progress,” said resident Ashley Taylor, “just move it a little farther away.”
Still, it is unclear if the proposed project – which Planning Department officials said could be used to provide equipment for the ongoing construction of the 112 wind-turbine project in Ocotillo – may be placed elsewhere.
Though contacted, Union Pacific didn’t provide answers to media inquires.
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