SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION APPROVAL OF COMMERCIAL SOLAR FARM IN LANDERS INFURIATES RESIDENTS
"The solar facility would be a blight on our rural desert community, being located on pristine land, highly visible from Reche Road, the major highway running through Landers. Migratory birds and desert tortoises are also likely to be affected."
Landers, CA – The Landers Association, a nonprofit social welfare organization serving the Landers community, has filed an appeal to the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors of the December 4 decision of the County Planning Commission approving the construction by S-Power, a Salt Lake City developer, of a 35 acre solar power farm between Bowman Trail and Sunny Vista Road in Landers. Until the Board of Supervisors decision on the appeal, expected in early 2015, no work can be done on the site.
According to Michael Krantz, Vice President of the Landers Association, "The solar facility would be a blight on our rural desert community, being located on pristine land, highly visible from Reche Road, the major highway running through Landers. Migratory birds and desert tortoises are also likely to be affected."
"Wind blown dust and sand is currently a major effect suffered by residents living near other existing solar farms in the area with very similar soil conditions, due to the disturbance of the delicate soil crust. " continued Krantz. "The Bowman Trail solar project would be equivalent to 32 football fields, likely to severely affect the quality of life for neighbors during our frequent windy days. "
The project is only 2000 feet from Reche Road which it parallels, and is on land which is at some points elevated almost 180 feet higher than Reche. Among other affected land owners within view of the site is an Buddhist retreat center is diagonally across the Reche/Bowman intersection.
An informal meeting at Belfield Hall in Landers on December13, brought out over 60 residents to hear from the sponsor, an S-Power representative, the first time the sponsor has met the community. At a meeting afterward, the residents present unanimously approved an appeal of the December 4 Planning Commission approval. The Bowman Trail Project is one of the first commercial solar projects to be approved by the Planning Commission after the Board of Supervisors lifted the moratorium in December 2013 by enacting a special ordinance with restrictions on the siting of commercial solar power facilities in the County. Among other conditions a project must be either "separated from existing/developing rural residential areas or be "screened from public view so as not to adversely affect the desirability of …rural residential use"
This project, adjacent to a rural residential area and visible to all driving on Reche Road, is an economic and esthetic disaster, according a nearby resident, whose horses are already suffering from dust migration on their property from preliminary utility construction activities.
The Landers Association expects a large turnout of Landers residents at the next meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, January 6 to air their views to the Board.