Results of the meeting - This story was reported by Dennis Anderson in the AV Press on September 28, 2014. Below is the first part of the story.
LANCASTER - Some of the interested parties known as "stakeholders" got some of what they wanted and others did not, particularly those in lightly populated areas fearing development of more large solar and wind energy enterprises in the far western reaches of the Antelope Valley. The Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission voted Saturday, 4-0, to adopt the first major update of planning for unincorporated areas of the Antelope Valley in nearly 30 years. Much of Saturday's debate focused on far west Antelope Valley residents' distress about the proliferation of large solar energy ventures located on property that used to be farmland. The goals of the Antelope Valley Area Plan are to "balance growth," to "respect preservation in the physical characteristics of the plan," and to ensure community participation. With the plan update in the works for roughly six years, hundreds of community meetings had been conducted, along with open-house gatherings, forums and one-on-one meetings. More than 500 people turned out Saturday to listen to the major characteristics of the plan and to have their say, or object to aspects of what, in 1986, was known as the "Town and Country Plan. "Of keen interest to people owning property in the outlying areas of the Antelope Valley was whether a classification known as Economic Opportunity Areas - places where there may be future growth - would "overlay" with another classification called Significant Ecological Areas. Developers, growth advocates and some property owners wanted the Economic Opportunity Areas excluded from the Significant Ecological Areas, and people who value rural living and unobstructed views wanted it the other way around. Nobody got everything they wanted. The plan expands the acreage of Significant Ecological Areas, meaning, according to county staff, that "development can happen, but there will be an additional level of review. "That drew protest from many property owners addressing the commission. As part of the vote, the Regional Planning Commission directed county staff to amend the plan so that developers of the master-planned 23,000-home Centennial development in the far western Antelope Valley are not immediately within one of three Significant Ecological Area expansions. The board also voted the same direction for the so-called Central Economic Opportunity Area near northern boundaries of Lancaster in the Fox Field Corridor. As far as planning for growth, with the expected addition of hundreds of thousands of residents in decades to come, Brenda Avadian of the Juniper Hills Town Council said, "I have one question. Where is the water? Where will we get water to provide for all this additional residential infrastructure? "Leaders of the Antelope Valley Board of Trade, the Greater Antelope Valley Association of Realtors and a "Blue Ribbon Committee" of community leaders appointed by county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich objected to a proposed expansion of "significant ecological areas" from 250,000 acres - about 390 square miles - to 400,000 acres, saying the expansion will reduce property values, tax revenues and development opportunities. That prompted Regional Planning Commissioner Pat Modugno to direct county planning staff in the final motion before the vote to amend plans for expanding the ecological areas in the far west and central areas.