YUCCA VALLEY – Planning commissioners took measures Tuesday evening to ban commercial solar and wind development in town limits.
During discussions about the town’s development code update, the commission unanimously rejected renewable energy generation facilities.
Deputy Town Manager Shane Stueckle wasted no time. After he advised commissioners the draft language for the code was formed without any input from the Town Council or commission, he asked planners frankly, “Is there really any desire to make allowances in this community for commercial wind development?”
The response was no from all five commissioners. It was the same response they gave when asked about commercial solar.
“Let it stay on BLM land,” Commissioner Steve Whitten suggested. “It’s really very complicated and there’s really no pay back to the community, with the exception of temporary employment.”
Stueckle said on many renewable energy projects, developers get tax breaks and the residual employment after construction is slim to none.
“I think it’s not necessary within our town limits … there’s plenty of room for that in other places,” Commissioner Jeff Drozd said.
The commission did not want to keep homeowners from installing solar panels on their residential lots.
Commissioner Tim Humphreville suggested adopting language to encourage homeowners to shield or hide rooftop mounted solar panels.
According to town staff, the highest number of permits requested from the planning department is for solar panels on home lots.
The commission’s decision does not immediately ban renewable-energy projects in town. Town staff will use the commission’s input when updating the development code. The Town Council will have the final say.
Yucca Valley planners aren’t the only ones concerned about large-scale renewable energy development.
James Ramos, San Bernardino County 3rd District supervisor, recently wrote to the director of the California Energy Commission’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, asking the commission to seek more local input by hosting meetings in the desert communities in the county.
“As you know, San Bernardino County comprises more than 50 percent of the 22.5 million acres in the DRECP Plan Area and thus represents one of the most impacted communities by this planning process,” Ramos stated. “In order to assure that your team is receiving the best public input for this critical planning document and in order to best protect the residents of San Bernardino County, we ask that you host public community meetings this summer in Lucerne Valley, the Morongo Basin and the greater Barstow area.”
The Yucca Valley Planning Commission plans to host a separate meeting to discuss wind turbines as accessory structures on home lots.
The commission will meet again at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, in the Yucca Room at the Yucca Valley Community Center.
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