Ramona planners want voices heard on Sol Orchard project
By Karen Brainard
Continuing to oppose the Sol Orchard solar energy project for Warnock Drive and Ramona Street, Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) is taking steps to make sure its voice is heard before the issue goes to the county Board of Supervisors for a vote.
RCPG unanimously rejected the Sol Orchard project twice this year, but the group is only advisory and the county Planning Commission on Oct. 19 approved a major use permit for the solar farm. The next step will be the Board of Supervisors.
The project calls for solar panels on 42.7 acres of the 110-acre farm in the 1600 block of Warnock Drive. The owner of the farm would lease the land to Sol Orchard for 25 years.
At its Dec. 6 meeting, Ramona planning group members consented to send two different letters—one to District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob, restating its opposition to the solar farm, and the other to the project’s landscape architect with recommendations in case the solar farm is approved. Not all members were in agreement with the second letter.
The letter to Jacob, drafted by member Torry Brean on behalf of the planning group, goes beyond opposing the project to ask for Jacob’s help to keep the Ramona planning group relevant. The letter notes that the planning commission also approved the Hidden Valley Ranch Rehabilitation Center on Highland Valley Road despite the RCPG’s unanimous opposition.
“The reason for this correspondence is not to cast aspersions but to vocalize our united desire for the voices of Ramona to be heard and to continue to work proactively with the county planners,” the letter states.
The other letter was drafted by member Scotty Ensign, owner of Scotty’s Plantscapes, and gives recommendations for plants that would survive in the Ramona climate and would provide visual barriers if the project goes through.
“I want it to be blocked as much as humanly possible,” said Ensign. His tree choices include evergreen and deciduous with 75 percent being evergreen. Ensign also said all trees should be 24-inch boxes or greater at the time of planting, and shrubs should be 15 gallons, if available. He also addressed irrigation and recommended year-round landscaping maintenance.
RCPG member Matt Deskovick disagreed with sending the letter, saying it didn’t make sense to offer landscaping suggestions when the planning group opposes the solar installation. Chair Jim Piva said the planning group could lose the opportunity to mitigate the solar for the community if the supervisors OK the project.
Planners decided that the letter should first affirm their adamant opposition to the project before offering the plant proposal. Deskovick and Angus Tobiason voted against the letter, Kevin Wallace abstained from voting, and Richard Tomlinson stepped down.
- Commission approves solar project permit
- Solar project questions remain
- Proposed solar farm poses dilemma for planners
- Planners reject environmental docs for solar farm
- Planning group schedules special meeting on solar farm project
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