Location, location, location.
This is the mantra of the real estate community and it holds in this case also. It is not hard to find Ramonans in favor of solar energy but it is very easy to find them in strong opposition to the pending construction of a 7.5 megawatt, 42.7-acre solar energy system that is going to be plopped down in a rural, agricultural field near the intersections of Warnock and Ramona Street where every driver who uses this route to and from work will enjoy this glorious enhancement to the landscape.
This project first reached public attention in March 2012 when Sol Orchard planners were questioned regarding their activities on this prime piece of rural property. A small groundswell of opposition was started, with a lot of focus on evaluating alternative sites that could better fit into the rural Ramona atmosphere and yet still support this energy generation source. Several viable alternatives were identified but they would include higher line development costs from the solar panel grid to the main junction boxes of SDG&E. All were disregarded by the development combine.
As plans crystallized, the developer appeared before the Ramona Community Planning Group, the Ramona Design Review Board, and the Ramona Community Planning Group again. While the Ramona Design Review Board is not an approval/disapproval board, it raised considerable issues regarding this project with particular attention to this site location and the negative visual impact that this project would have on this rural segment of Ramona. The Ramona Community Planning Group soundly voted against this project. Jim Piva, the current chairperson of this group, stated at a recent SANDAG meeting that this group represented 99 percent of the Ramona community; therefore, this project’s current location is opposed by the entire Ramona community.
And yet, it goes forward. At a recent San Diego County Planning Commission meeting, over the objections of the Ramona Community Planning Group representatives and others who spoke against it, it was approved for construction.
The last ditch effort to stop this atrocity from final construction at this site rests with the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. Three groups have filed separate protests against this project: The Ramona Community Planning Group, Jerry Myers for Citizens For a Rural Ramona, and the law firm of Lozeau and Drury LLP on behalf of the Laborers International Union of North America Local Union No. 89. It is absolutely essential that the Ramona community gather together in support of these groups.
Here is what is needed:
First, send an email or letter to Supervisor Dianne Jacob, and the other four county supervisors sharing your strong opposition to this site for this project.
Second, follow the Citizens For a Rural Ramona (CFARR) website, www.CFARR.info, to find out when and where the actual hearing before the County Board of Supervisors will be heard. Then please show up at this hearing to display your opposition to their project at this site.
The bottom line is that this is your community. It is being barraged by a number of projects that do not have public support. If you really care about what is happening, then now, more than ever, is the time to show your community spirit.
Ramonans are not against solar energy. They are against this location and the destruction of our rural environment.
Jon Dahlke is a Ramona resident