County Board of Supervisors Will Hear Sol Orchard Appeals Wednesday

Three groups, including the Ramona Community Planning Group, will speak out against the proposed solar farm.

Residents and groups in opposition of a proposed 42-acre solar farm off Warnock Drive will attend the San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow, Feb. 6, where they'll ask for an appeal of the County Planning Commissions approval of the project.

On Oct. 19 last year, the Planning Commission voted on this item after hearing testimony from 16 speakers—five in support and 11 in opposition.  After discussion of alternative site locations and a motion to extend the landscape buffer from 20 feet to 50 feet, the Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend approval of the Sol Orchard Ramona Solar Energy Major Use Permit

In January of last year, the Ramona Community Planning Group unanimously voted against the proposed solar farm, saying the project didn't fit with Ramona's community plan.

Three separate parties are asking the County Board of Supervisors to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to grant the Sol Orchard Ramona Solar Energy Major Use Permit:

  • Lozeau Drury LLP, on behalf of Laborers International Union of North America
  • The Ramona Community Planning Group
  • Jerry Myers on behalf of Citizens for a Rural Ramona

Sol Orchard, which is proposed for 1650 Warnock Dr., includes the construction and operation of a photovoltaic solar farm that would consist of approximately 42.7 acres of solar panels over a 110-acre site with a production capacity of 7.5 Megawatts, according to the county.

A County Board of Supervisors planning report said the panels would be single-axis tracking panels which would range from an eight-foot to an 11½-foot height at maximum tilt.

The majority of the panels will be 8-feet tall and they would be screened by an 8-foot tall fence and landscaping, the report said. The panels would be aligned in rows that rotate to face the east in the morning and west in the afternoon to maximize solar absorption.

Energy from the site would be delivered to an existing overhead 12 kilovolt (kV) distribution line that runs parallel to Warnock Drive, according to the county.

The Board of Supervisors meeting will be on Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. at 1600 Pacific Highway in San Diego, room 310.

The full agenda and report can be found online at the County of San Diego website.

Hiking In Ramona February 05, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Is this a recycled story or do you have the wrong month for the county meeting?
greg Chick February 05, 2013 at 04:10 PM
NIMBY, is what I hear, what about the private property rights of the land owner? This will not bring crime, traffic, pollution, offend any religion, why does this "Image" some have about what they want to see take priority over someone else's need or desire to do something with his property? There are people who think all the development that is here already is ugly, but that is different because it is "your house" now that you are here close the doors. What about the jobs? A Nuke or Coal plant goes by some ones house and many in Ramona think that is ok...I speak out against Coal and Nuke and peoples response is "oh they need the jobs or Coal is cheaper than Solar" , now it is NIMBY time...and I might ad, no pollution or radiation, no cancer,
Christine Phillips February 05, 2013 at 04:32 PM
I agree Greg. They seem to ignor the huge Power poles that SDG&E has already installed along that area. They( lots of Ramona residents) are always complaining about the high cost of energy in Ramona in both the summer and winter, yet apparently have no intention of doing anything to solve the problem. I remember hearing the same disagreements from the same neighborhood several years ago when their neighbor wanted to put in a pig farm. They lost the argument, and none of their complaints seem to have been validated. The farm is there has no smell, as they complained it would, and is a clean seemingly almost invisible building. I believe they just are fighting any kind of change. You can't call your city the "Valley of the Sun, and then refuse to allow anyone to use that sun, because you think you won't like the way it looks! They are in more danger from those high voltage lines going through their neighborhood!!!
Diane Chapman February 05, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Greg, we are not against solar farms per se. We are against them in areas zoned for one thing(agriculture) and the County bending or ignoring the rules to suit the needs of Sol Orchard. The owner has every right to do with his land as he pleases per the zone requirements. People who live nearby and who commute daily have a right to expect that this remains agricultural. Otherwise, if the zoning was a moving target, I would not chance living in an area that was at the whim of the County planners. No NIMBY here, there was a site near the dump, would have worked out well. But to put an industrial complex in a pasture is far beyond logic. It reeks of special interest. Start to google solar farms in California and you will find that they are being put on prime ag land? Does not make sense.
Christine Phillips February 05, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Well Diane how about a wind farm then. If you travel through west Texas most of the agricultural areas have their land covered with windmills. Most of the ranchers have windmills with cattle grazing underneath. I suspect you expect the landowner to just let this land go fallow, when he can no longer make a living farming so you can see a green field as you drive to work. As for being at the whim of county planners, welcome to Ramona. Has been that for for years, at least the 35 years I have lived here. If the site near the old dump would have worked as well, why wouldn't they use it? hmmmm?
Diane Chapman February 05, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Christine, have you studied what Wind Farms do to the bird life? They demolish it. We have 100 Canadian Geese that land in that very spot. Once again, why would you put a wind farm in the middle of a pasture that is ag? No one expects the land to go fallow, that is a false argument. Why have zoning laws then? The "reason" we were "told" that the dump would not work out is that Sol Orchard wanted to be right under the power lines.
Melissa Phy February 05, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Hi Hiking in Ramona, That was a slip by a tired editor who couldn't believe it was already February! The month has been corrected. Sorry for the typo and thanks for the catch! Best, Melissa
Christine Phillips February 05, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Apparently they have more faith in the birds abilities to avoid large objects in Texas. Seems to me if they killed all the birds they would find dead birds all over the ground. What do you think a nuclear leak does to everything? How about the steam from a coal plant? But wait those things aren't around here, so as long as you can flip your switch and have power, who cares how you get it. Seems to me being close to the power lines is practical. Would you rather have more of those huge high power lines in Ramona? Read any of the leukemia studies done about living under those lines? And you are still ignoring the fact that perhaps that landowner can no longer use the land to make a living farming. What is his opinion? Seems to me he has the biggest input to be listened to. And you didn't comment on the pig farm, which is agricultural and still was fought.
Diane Chapman February 05, 2013 at 11:27 PM
We are not talking about Texas Christine...we are in Ramona.....birds are an issue. In Texas, there are vast areas in the middle of open space that may be perfectly fine for birds. No one said we do not want solar power, so the comments about nuclear and coal are irrelevant. We are talking about an area of land that is agricultural with many families nearby in residential areas. Yes, it makes sense to put the panels under the power lines, but not there. Why not away from homes and farms? And as for the farmer, as with all the other property owners in the valley, they had eyes wide open when the decided to move to an ag area abd the resulting laws governing what they could and could not do with the land ! http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-08-28/national/35269438_1_wind-turbines-wind-farms-wind-power http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/12/17/us-wind-farms-under-fire-for-bird-kills/ http://www.nature.com/news/the-trouble-with-turbines-an-ill-wind-1.10849 It is really that simple !
sandra j February 06, 2013 at 03:17 AM
where can i buy a no-ne-my-mo-com* shirt? *not near my morning commute
Catryna White February 06, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Bring it on! Give that blasted SDGE some competition. It's better than huge windmills and much better than those stinking power poles. We just finished a 72 panel solar array on our property and it is not unsightly.
Catryna White February 06, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Exactly Greg! Obviously these people in this neighborhood can't smell the stink in their own backyards, in regards to the dairy and egg ranches that surround them. Talk about nuisance. Yet, they yammer negatively about something as constructive as a solar farm. Wow. I say get on with it, get it done and give SDGE a little competition and the common citizen a break. I'm just hoping it won't be the fiasco San Onofre was.


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