By Karen Brainard
How fairly Ramona is being represented on the county’s Planning Commission was a topic brought up by a resident at the Ramona Community Planning Group’s March 7 meeting.
Jim Salvatore told planners that he is concerned about Bryan Woods representing Ramona on the Planning Commission because he is no longer a resident.
Woods, who owned the former Ramona Pharmacy, was first appointed to represent District 2, which includes Ramona, on the Planning Commission in 1993. He was re-appointed for his sixth term by District 2 County Supervisor Dianne Jacob in January.
“I don’t feel he should be the one representing Ramona when he lives in Del Mar,” said Salvatore. “I have nothing against Bryan, we’ve been friends for 30 years, but he’s not representing Ramona the way he should be, the way the majority of Ramona people want him. I feel he should be taken off that board.”
Salvatore said he talked to Jacob about his concerns.
“I think part of the problem with her selection is somebody else needs to step up to the plate,” he said.
Salvatore said he was too busy to volunteer to be considered, but added that his wife, Sandee, is communicating with Jacob and creating a job description for the post.
Carol Fowler, however, who was sitting next to Salvatore, disagreed with his viewpoint.
“I have huge reservations about taking this step,” said the real estate agent and vice chair of the Ramona Village Design Group. “I think we need to think this through.”
Woods, she said, lived in the community for a long time and served on various boards. Fowler said she talked to Woods and believes he is well aware that Ramonans were unhappy with some of his recent decisions on the Planning Commission.
Woods voted to approve the Sol Orchard solar project for Warnock Drive and Ramona Street, and the expansion of Highland Valley Ranch rehabilitative center on Highland Valley Road, despite opposition from the planning group and many residents.
Fowler added that to replace Woods with someone who lives in District 2 would not necessarily mean that person would be from Ramona.
“I urge you to look at the full track record of Bryan and what he has done for the community. He knows the community. He knows what the community wants,” Fowler said.
RCPG Chairman Jim Piva disclosed that he also talked to Woods and told him the planning group was displeased with some of his votes.
Piva cautioned those at the meeting about the possibility of more large solar installations in the community.
“Just so the community knows, there is a big push right now, because Pandora’s box had been opened...for solar power plants, industrial complexes, here in Ramona and some of the ranchers here in Ramona are being approached right now to sign similar contracts...Outside corporations are coming in and offering money to property owners,” he said.
The owner of the property at Ramona Street and Warnock Drive has signed a 25-year agreement with Sol Orchard to lease the land for the nearly 43-acre solar energy installation that will tie into a San Diego Gas & Electric distribution line
“I think we definitely need to have an ally on the Planning Commission,” Piva said. “There needs to be some kind of shot across the bow, if you will, to our political representatives to our community of Ramona, and that includes Bryan.”
Planning group members discussed whether the topic of the Planning Commission appointment should be agendized for a future meeting but decided against doing so, saying it is not in their purview.