By Jim E. Winburn
Special to High Desert Daily
(Phelan)– Board members of the Phelan Pinon Hills Community Services District on Wednesday will review the status of a CEQA report for a proposed 1.25-megawatt solar project on a 55-acre property on Johnson Road.
According to a report by Engineering Manager George Cardenas, staff recommends authorizing the release of the California Environmental Quality Act document for public review for the proposed solar project, which also includes a site development plan for an equestrian facility and a community park at 12380 Johnson Road.
Tom Dodson of Tom Dodson and Associates will present the CEQA report at Wednesday’s board meeting to address any questions. The district in April 2013 awarded Tom Dodson and Associates the task of preparing the CEQA report for the Johnson Road solar project.
The 1.25 MW solar project is expected to produce electricity to be metered into the regional grid, and credits will be obtained to offset energy consumption by individual District facilities, including those at the equestrian and community parks.
The findings of the initial evaluation discloses that “although the proposed project could have a significant effect on the environment (in terms of aesthetics, traffic, hazardous materials, air & water quality, and noise) there will not be a significant effect in this case because revisions in the project have been made by or agreed to by the project proponent.”
Prior to the development of the proposed facilities, the CEQA report addresses the requirements for several studies and their costs, including a tortoise study, a Burrowing Owl study ($6,000 concurrent with the tortoise study), a Mojave Ground Squirrel study ($50,000 – comprising of two studies – for both spring and fall), and a Joshua Tree survey ($2,500).
The report states that additional cost may include filing a ’2081 Permit’ with Fish and Wildlife for a fee of approximate $10,000 to $12,000.
Total fiscal impact of the CEQA report comes to approximately $70,500, the report states.
According to the Tom Dodson & Associates report, the proposed Johnson Road Park project will be developed over the next several years by the district and is envisioned to consist of three major components: an equestrian facility, a community park and a solar field to generate power to support district facilities.
The report said that power generated at this facility is intended to generate energy credits that will provide a savings to the District to offset energy consumption expenses.
“Development of the proposed Johnson Road Park will consist of clearing the Joshua tree woodland/ creosote bush scrub habitat that occupies most of the project site; grading each area in sequence as funding becomes available,” the report stated.
However, the district does not have sufficient funds available at this time to construct all of the park facilities, so the development is proposed to be implemented in phases, according to the report.
“The solar field is proposed to be developed first, just north of the railroad track, adjacent to Johnson Road; and as funding becomes available, a decision will be made whether to proceed with the equestrian center or the community park,” the report explained. “This evaluation considers the construction of both facilities concurrently.”
The equestrian facility is planned to encompass the southernmost 12.48-acre site, while the solar field is proposed to occupy approximately 10 acres overall, the report stated. And the community park will be developed at the northern end of the property on approximately 33 acres.
The Phelan Piñon Hills Community Services District board meeting takes place 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Phelan Community Center, 4128 Warbler Road, Phelan, Ca. 92371. Review the agenda online at http://www.pphcsd.org.