Community activists in the Boulevard area are pushing back against zoning changes for wind energy development in unincorporated San Diego County, fearing the industrialization of rural landscapes.
Boulevard area rancher Donna Tisdale and two conservation-oriented groups have filed a lawsuit in state court against the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, challenging wind energy regulations approved in May. Renewable energy prospectors are pursuing a long list of projects in southeastern San Diego County, where new transmission projects have opened up access to an area rich in sunshine and wind resources.
San Diego County spokesman Michael Workman declined Thursday to comment on the suit, which officials received earlier in the week.
The zoning amendments provide greater opportunities for wind-testing equipment and small turbines that provide electricity for on-site use. In a separate measure, opposed by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, zoning ordinances were amended in anticipation of industrial-scale turbine arrays that feed electricity to the grid, along with changes to community zoning plans for the Boulevard and Borrego Springs areas.
The lawsuit against the board, filed in San Diego Superior Court by Tisdale, Backcountry Against Dumps and The Protect Our Communities Foundation, accuses architects of amended wind ordinances of disregarding years of work by a local community planning group in association with San Diego County officials.
“Basically, our community is being turned into an industrial energy zone, unwillingly,” Tisdale said. “The county and the feds have not done their due diligence about what happens to people when they allow these things too close to homes and sensitive wildlife areas.”
The lawsuit asks to vacate wind ordinance provisions and seeks injunctions against further wind development, along with compensation for legal fees. It also asserts new wind energy regulations are at odds with older zoning provisions.
“By authorizing the future development of large wind turbines on land zoned for agricultural or open space under zoning classifications that do not allow this type of industrial development, the Board (of Supervisors) created two conflicting regulations governing the use of that land,” the lawsuit says.
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