The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors rejected an appeal from the California Historic Route 66 Association to halt the building of a 20-megawatt solar plant near Helendale, Calif, reported several media outlets.
The Victorville Daily Press initially reported Monday about the appeal:
The California Historic Route 66 Association is appealing the approval of the facility proposed on six parcels of land, 3 miles north of Oro Grande and 3.5 miles south of Helendale, on the grounds it violates the California Environmental Quality Act and officials failed to provide proper notice of the project, a county staff report shows.
But county officials say the application by Arizona-based Alamo Solar, LLC was processed in compliance with CEQA laws and a project notice was mailed to surrounding property owners within 1,000 feet of the proposed facility’s boundaries. They also argue that, prior to a Planning Commission meeting on Feb. 6, a notice was mailed to those property owners, advertised in the Daily Press and posted outside of the San Bernardino and High Desert government centers, according to the staff report.
On Tuesday, the board unanimously approved the project despite the appeal, reported the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. I tried to contact someone from the association to elaborate about its opposition, but an email was not returned. However, the newspaper reported what an association member said at the meeting:
Ted Stimpful, a Newberry Springs resident and member of the California Historic Route 66 Association’s board of directors, said he was highly opposed to the project without an environmental impact report being conducted. The association has been trying to negotiate an agreement with E-on and Alamo Solar, LLC. for the last month to avert the appeal of the project and a potential lawsuit, but negotiations have been fruitless, he said.
“Alamo Solar offered a cash payment to us to withdraw our appeal, but we rejected that offer. We did not oppose the project to make money,” Stimpful told supervisors during Tuesday’s public hearing.
Stimpful said the project would be an eyesore and erode the character of the old stretch of Route 66. He said the solar panels would create glint and glare, thus posing a public safety issue.
The county’s Planning Department determined Route 66 was barely visible from the site, with its southerly end about 2,000 feet from the highway. An environmental consultant also said the site would be on a stretch of the highway that was not a historically significant segment and affected no “cultural resources.”
The plant will be surrounded by fence up to 8 feet tall, with electricity-producing solar panels up to 10 feet tall.
I am neither opposed nor supportive to the solar plant in that area. It’s akin to other industrial areas along the Route 66 corridor, such as oil refineries in Tulsa and the cattle feed lots near Amarillo. Not everything on the Mother Road is a scenic vista, nor does it have to be.
(Image of a solar farm in California by Sarah Swenty / USFWS via Flickr)