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County to OK AV area plans
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County to OK AV area plans

Final action is expected Tuesday by Los Angeles County supervisors on a master plan that will guide home and business construction and other development across nearly 1,800 square miles of the Antelope Valley outside the city limits of Palmdale and Lancaster.

Tuesday's vote at the board's meeting in downtown Los Angeles is a follow-up to a June 1 vote at which they told county attorneys to prepare the final documents for changing the county's General Plan, its master set of regulations for development.

Tuesday's action is expected to conclude more than six years of studies, community meetings, revisions and hearings on revising the Valley's area plan, which was last updated in 1986 - when the Valley had about half its present population of more than 400,000 residents.

At the urging of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, the new plan reduces the size and impacts of so-called "significant ecological areas" but also bars industrial-scale solar and wind-energy facilities from inside the areas' boundaries as well as from newly created "economic opportunity areas."

The document contains hundreds of pages that provide guidance for future land development and conservation in areas under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County officials.

The area plan governs land use in the Valley's unincorporated areas such as Acton, Lake Los Angeles, Littlerock and Quartz Hill. State law requires that the plan be revised to reflect current conditions and to guide the growth and change that will occur over the next 20 years.

Among its other effects, the plan clears the way in the far western Antelope Valley for the 23,000-home Centennial master-planned community that was unveiled in 2002 but stalled by the Great Recession. The project is in one of the three new "economic opportunity areas," where residential development would be promoted as part of a wider mixed-use strategy.

Planned on Tejon Ranch, the largest privately owned piece of property in California, Centennial is to border Highway 138 west of 300th Street West.

The other new "economic opportunity areas" are the East Economic Opportunity Area, which takes in Lake Los Angeles, Littlerock, Sun Village, Pearblossom and Llano, and the Central Economic Opportunity Area, which adjoins Lancaster's northern city limits and takes in land north, west and east of William J. Fox Airfield.

The "significant ecological areas" in which proposed construction projects are subjected to additional review by biologists were originally proposed to be expanded to cover more than 500 square miles over much of the western and eastern Valley.

But under Antonovich's motion, the expansions are eliminated in the central and east "economic opportunity areas," and the "significant ecological area" designation is removed from land earmarked for residential, commercial and industrial uses in the West Economic Opportunity Area containing Centennial.

Inside the significant ecological areas, in addition, construction of single-family homes will be exempted from going through additional review by biologists. Also exempted from the extra review are accessory structures and structures such as barns and arenas for keeping animals.

The changes also exempted from additional review all previously disturbed farmland.

People who testified last year about the plan said they were concerned about more huge solar and wind power projects affecting the Valley environment.

County officials said banning industrial-scale solar projects from the "significant ecological areas" would take care of much of that issue. In the meanwhile, they said, a new renewable energy ordinance is being worked on that is proposed to ban utility-scale renewable-energy facilities in more than 640 square miles of the Antelope Valley.

However, the changes do not affect solar projects whose proposals have already been submitted to the county. Those projects will be "grandfathered in" and will be considered under previous rules.
15-06-2015 07:29 PM
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