A county ordinance allowing industrial-scale renewable energy projects would not be in Lucerne Valley’s best interest as currently drafted, according to Chuck Bell, president of the Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association.
Instead, Bell and the LVEDA board believe the county should create “renewable energy zones”and update its general plan.
“They’re going to flood it with applications, and we’re going to have to fight each one,” Bell said during Tuesday’s regular meeting of LVEDA at the Senior Center.
“The county general plan has to be updated,” said Betty Munson, a newly appointed Johnson Valley representative to the Lucerne Valley-Johnson Valley Municipal Advisory Council. “It really does trump the ordinance.”
Jim Harvey of Johnson Valley, who is regarded as one of the most knowledgeable local residents on the topic, agreed.
The LVEDA board is currently drafting a letter expressing its concerns to be sent to Chris Carrillo, deputy chief of staff for Third District Supervisor James Ramos. Carrillo, who previously worked for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office, will be guest speaker at the next MAC meeting later this month. He is expected to talk about the solar moratorium and hauled water issue.
‘Cart before the horse’
Following the LVEDA meeting, Richard Selby, chairman of the MAC, said he had a meeting scheduled earlier this week with Ramos.
“What we’re trying to impress upon Ramos is you’ve got the cart before the horse,” Selby said. “They should have a land use district for these things.”
LVEDA and MAC members prefer zoning because it would keep such projects in designated areas. The county conditional use permit approach could open the door to projects near residential areas, which Selby said could obstruct views and cause a decline in nearby property values.
“People live in the desert because they like the desert,” Selby said. “This takes it away.”
Last month, the County Planning Commission approved a draft of the proposed Solar Energy Ordinance. The ordinance is scheduled go before the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 3.
“It will be interesting to see how it all pans out in the end,” Selby said. “This is a hot potato right now.”
Sergeant to leave Lucerne Valley
Also at the LVEDA meeting, Bell announced that Sgt. Steve Harbottle, the current commander of the Lucerne Valley Sheriff Station, will soon be reassigned to Victorville and Adelanto stations.
“It wasn’t his call,” an obviously dismayed Bell said. “He likes it out here.”
Bell is hopeful, however, that a sergeant with experience in rural crimes will replace Harbottle, taking some of the sting out of Sgt. Harbottle’s reassignment.
Also, Dave Rib mentioned that State Assembly member Tim Donnelly, whose conservative values resonate with many of his constituents, recently declared his candidacy for governor of California.
Harvey, who serves as president of the Lucerne Valley Unified School District’s governing board, said the next school board meeting would be on Nov. 13 at the elementary school. The December meeting will be held at the high school.
Millie Rader talked about the book that she, Bell and Chuck Rader are working on for Arcadia Publishing. Currently, they are looking for more historical photos.
“We need those,” Rader said.
Selby said that someone has inquired about putting up a wind farm in Grapevine Canyon.
Solar projects sold
He also said that Agincourt and Marathon sold their Lucerne Valley project to EDP Renewables. EDP Renewables is based in Madrid, Spain.
Selby discussed water issues and how the Mojave Water Agency is partnering with small agencies to fix water systems.
“We’re kind of looking at the core of town as a model for addressing the water concerns of the community,” he said.
“I think we need to thank MWA for doing that,” Bell said.
Munson discussed a recent meeting Congressman Paul Cook had with Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Patti Riddle, chairwoman of the Lucerne Valley Veterans Memorial Monument Committee, said the monument will be dedicated on May 26, 2014. The committee has invited Ramos, First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood, Donnelly and Cook.
“We invited everyone all the way from the President on down,” Riddle said.
She believes county, state and national representatives will attend the event.
Riddle also encouraged local residents to purchase an honorarium.
Selby also discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial free trade agreement.
“This has got to be NAFTA on steroids,” Selby said. “I’d recommend you start researching this.”