By Karen Brainard
Ramona Community Planning Group will hold a special meeting on May 24 to address environmental documents for the proposed solar farm at 1650 Warnock Drive.
The meeting will start at 7 p.m. in Ramona Community Center, 434 Aqua Lane. The meeting will give planners and residents a chance to comment on the project’s mitigated negative declaration.
RCPG Secretary Kristi Mansolf told planners at their May 3 meeting that she received notice of the public review too late to add it to the agenda and the county would not grant an extension for public comments past the June 1 deadline. The planning group’s next regular meeting is June 7.
Planning group member Richard Tomlinson stepped down to address the group as a private citizen, saying he saw no reason for a special meeting because the project will go through, due to California’s renewable energy policies.
“I think we owe it to the community to have a full discussion,” said planner Carl Hickman.
Planner Bob Hailey said a meeting could be an “exercise in futility” but, because of the impact to the community, he agreed a meeting should be held.
“We do have to stand up because we’ll be steamrolled if we don’t,” said member Kevin Wallace.
If the project is appealed, said Mansolf, the additional comments will give “more of a leg to stand on.”
The planning group unanimously opposed the photovoltaic project for Warnock Drive and Ramona Street in January, saying it was incompatible with community character, would cause blight to the area, and would contribute to loss of use of prime farmland.
Because the RCPG is advisory to the county, the San Diego County Planning Commission can override the decision.
The plans requires a major use permit to construct and operate a 7.5 megawatt solar energy project that would have solar panels on 45 acres of the 110-acre site.
The property is owned by Mark Bousema, who would lease that portion of his land to Sol Orchard LLC. Energy produced from the proposed project would be sold to San Diego Gas & Electric and go into the Ramona grid, said project representatives.
Bousema, who raises pigs for bio-medical research on the property, said leasing the land would give him assurance that he has enough money to preserve his farm operation.
Representatives from Sol Orchard and consultants on the project incorporated design and landscape changes after meeting with the Ramona Design Review Board in December.
The documents may be viewed at www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/ceqa_public_review.html, or Ramona Library, 1275 Main St. Comments must be received by 4 p.m., June 1.
For more information, contact Larry Hofreiter at 858-8846 or Larry.Hofreiter@sdcounty.ca.gov.