Saturday, January 9, 2010

The City of Lancaster Planning Department is Proposing Zoning Changes to Further Wind and Solar Projects Expansion in Antelope Valley

Just this past December the City of Lancaster Planning Commission reviewed a proposal to amend the zoning ordinance to allow for wind energy uses in commercial and industrial zones, and expand solar outside of these zones. The planning department is recommending to Adopt Resolution No. 09-37 for the City Councils approval which would amend the Zoning Ordinance (Title 17 of the Lancaster Municipal Code). The order would provide regulations for co-location of small wind energy systems in commercial and industrial zones with the addition of Sections 17.12.070.W, 17.16.060.A.14, and Section 17.40.690, and Section 17.08.070.Z would allow solar electrical generating plants in rural residential zones subject to a conditional use permit. Currently, the Zoning Ordinance allows solar electrical generating plants only in heavy industrial zones with a director’s review application. In order to address the increasing demand for alternative energy, the planning staff is recommending this addition to Section 17.08.070.Z.

The City’s Zoning Ordinance is intended as a regulatory document to implement the goals, policies and objectives contained within the City’s General Plan. By approving the proposed amendments to the current Zoning Ordinance, it would further implement the policies set forth in the General Plan by allowing alternative small energy systems in the commercial and industrial zones, as well as utilizing rural residential areas to further the development of solar power plants.

This proposal and a number of other proposals shows the City of Lancaster’s increasing interest and demand to expand alternative energy projects within the city limits. There are a number of solar projects taking place outside the city limits on unincorporated Los Angeles County land. This proposal by the planning department would provide the first wind energy project within the city limits. Most of the wind energy projects are in Tehachapi, in Kern County north of Los Angeles. The proposal would also create tax revenue for the City of Lancaster, which the city doesn’t receive with County projects. Currently, the City of Lancaster has very limited heavy industrial zoning, so expanding solar projects to operate in rural residential zones expands a much wider net for solar companies. Owners of vacant unused land within the city limits of Lancaster should see a price increase for their property in the coming years if this plan gets final approval. We will keep you posted with the progress.

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