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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 1st, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 5 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 5

Residents near Lompoc continue fight against wind project

By ZAC EZZONE

Not wanting their home to be disturbed by the nearby development of 29 wind turbines in a largely undeveloped area about 5 miles south of Lompoc, George and Cheryl Bedford continue their fight against the project.

The couple, who live on a ridgetop near the project’s location in San Miguelito Canyon, appealed the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission’s approval of the project in November to the county Board of Supervisors. The latter rejected these appeals and approved the project during a meeting in late January. 

On Feb. 21, the Bedfords filed a lawsuit challenging the board’s decision to approve a permit for the project. The couple also appealed the county’s Central Board of Architectural Review’s (CBAR) approval of the preliminary design of the project. This started another appeal process that sent the project back to the Planning Commission, and then again to the Board of Supervisors.

In this second appeal over the design of the project at the board’s March 31 meeting, Richard Adam, an attorney representing the Bedfords, claimed that CBAR and the Planning Commission approved this project despite language in the county’s Land Use and Development Code that requires projects to match their surrounding areas. Based on this language, he said, the nearly 500-foot tall wind turbines don’t fit in a rural area such as San Miguelito Canyon.

“In order to approve a project, any project, a finding has to be made that the overall structure … as well as any part of any structure … are in proportion to and in scale with other existing or permitted structures in the area surrounding the subject property,” Adam said.

In a presentation to the board prior to Adam’s comments, county Planner Kathy Pfeifer said that CBAR and the Planning Commission approved the project while recognizing that the height, scale, location, and design of the wind turbines can’t be changed because of technical requirements.  

“The [Planning Commission’s] motion to grant preliminary design approval was for the project as a whole, while acknowledging some components of the project have technical constraints that may limit design compatibility with the surrounding environment,” Pfeifer said.

The board—absent 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam, who recused himself because the Bedfords’ attorney is his brother—unanimously rejected the appeal and approved moving the project forward. 

“I understand the argument,” 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said. “I think staff answered it correctly and well, and it’s probably not the last we’re going to hear about this.”

In a previous interview with the Sun, Daniel Duke, vice president of development for BayWa—the company behind the wind farm—said construction of the project is slated to be complete by the end of this year. Once complete, the wind turbines would produce about 98 megawatts of electricity annually, which is enough to power roughly 43,000 homes.








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