PALMDALE — The Palmdale Planning Commission will hear an appeal by Citizens for Responsible Solar requesting the commission overturn a hearing officer’s approval of a utility-scale solar power generating facility for the Lockheed Martin Plant 10 facility.

The proposed solar facility will be constructed on two parcels totaling approximately 140 acres and will tie into the existing Southern California Edison grid associated with the adjacent Plant 10 complex to the north of the site, according to a staff report by Associate Planner Justin Sauder.

The project site is currently vacant land bounded by 15th and 10th streets east, Blackbird Drive and east Avenue P. The project will also include the construction of infrastructure such as paved and unpaved roads allowing access to the solar panels, a chainlink perimeter security fence, a switch-yard, a retention basin and an underground distribution line to the point of interconnection at the on-site SCE substation, according to the report.

A hearing officer approved the proposed project plan and associated environmental document on Feb. 25. 

Citizens for Responsible Solar — an unincorporated association of individuals and labor organizations — submitted an appeal on March 8, claiming the initial study/mitigated negative declaration for the project failed to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

A Feb. 9 letter from the Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardoza law firm written on behalf of Citizens for Responsible Solar, said the city may not approve the project until it prepares an environmental impact report.

For example, the letter raised concerns about potential impacts to the western Joshua tree, saying the city must provide an accurate description of the existing Joshua trees in an environmental impact report for the project.

According to the staff report, an environmental impact report is not needed because there is substantial evidence that the project will not have a significant effect on the environment with mitigation measures incorporated.

According to conditions of approval for the site plan review, impacts to Joshua trees cannot be avoided during the project implementation, therefore, consultation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be done and a California Endangered Species Act incidental take permit will be sought.

“No take of Joshua trees will occur until the ITP has been issued to the applicant,” the staff report said. “Impacts to Joshua trees are unavoidable, therefore, compensatory mitigation will be required. In addition, the applicant shall identify an appropriate site to preserve Joshua trees in perpetuity,” 

The appeal argued that Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company and the City of Palmdale have failed to comply with procedures of the Palmdale Native Vegetation Ordinance, in the Palmdale Municipal Code.

The Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m., Thursday. The meeting is closed to in-person attendance but will be simulcast live at www,cityofpalmdale.org and Spectrum channel 27.

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