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HesperiaStar.com
  • RENEWABLE ENERGY

    Hesperia SPARC meeting well-attended

    Residents offer comments, input on forthcoming policy
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  • HESPERIA — The Hesperia Library’s Community Room overflowed as residents turned out to offer opinions, ask questions and work with planners and consultants on a forthcoming renewable-energy element to the county’s General Plan.
    The San Bernardino County Partnership for Renewable Energy and Conservation, or SPARC, forum Thursday was one of five held in the past week to help gather public input on land-use policy.
    With about 125 attendees, compared to about 20 in Barstow two nights before, the Hesperia gathering was a show of interest, inquiry and insight.
    “This is the kind of crowd we’ve been hoping for,” Siri Champion, one of the forum representatives, said to a reporter in the hallway. Champion was contacting attendees who couldn’t fit into the packed meeting room.
    “I came to see how, where and what they’re doing,” said Fred Windsor, of Lucerne Valley, who sat outside. “I think it’s already a done deal.”
    After an introductory presentation by San Bernardino County Planning Manager Karen Watkins, the forum included a public comment session preceding a small-group workshop. The goal was to answer questions in a “Participant Workbook” used by forum presenters to gauge public sentiment about wind- and solar-power projects.
    But Lorrie Steely, organizer of Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative, or MC3, said the multiple-choice questions steered answers toward “a predetermined goal.”
    According to the county’s SPARC web page, “Refining the county’s practices will help to encourage and attract locally appropriate renewable-energy development while ensuring conservation priorities are addressed.”
    Some members of the public addressed proposed energy and power-transmission projects not under the county’s jurisdiction — such as the North Peak Wind Energy project that would be located on Bureau of Land Management land in the rural Apple Valley highlands.
    And some residents saw contradictions involving the locations of proposed projects, conservation goals and short time frames for approvals. There are 21 projects conditionally approved by the county and another six under review as of Aug. 1.
    “We don’t need renewable-energy here, unplanned and in the wrong place,” said Neville Slade, a Victor Valley College instructor and a member of MC3.
    His observation seemed to be the prevailing view among those attending, and one made with emphasis by some speakers.
    The draft Development Code changes might be ready for county officials’ review in March, Watkins said.
    Gary Brodeur may be contacted at 760-951-6245 or gbrodeur@vvdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DP_gbrodeur.
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