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San Joaquin County supervisors to discuss allowing solar farm in agricultural area

Company will appeal county planners' denial at tonight's meeting

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Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:36 am, Tue Oct 16, 2012.

Are solar farms compatible with agricultural areas, or are they industrial installations that should be discouraged on farmland?

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will decide today whether Bear Creek Solar should be allowed to construct a solar farm on 20 acres on the east side of Jack Tone Road south of Victor Road in the Lockeford area.

The board will consider an appeal of the county Planning Commission's denial of the solar farm project.

The Planning Commission voted 3-2 on Sept. 6 to deny the application by Christopher Little of Bear Creek Solar, from Mendota Heights, Minn.

Two neighboring property owners and the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation oppose the solar farm because they say it would reduce the amount of agricultural land in the area.

Farm Bureau officials consider solar farms to be an industrial use, Farm Bureau program director Katie Patterson said. A solar farm may sound "warm and fuzzy," Patterson said, but the 20 acres of farmland would be replaced by concrete. There's a lot of potential for solar farms in cities rather than agricultural areas, she added.

Meanwhile, Little wrote in his appeal to the Board of Supervisors that his project should be approved because the state of California supports solar energy and discourages local cities and counties from denying solar projects because of local land-use laws.

Little was not available for comment Monday afternoon.

Today's Board of Supervisors meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the board chambers, 44 N. San Joaquin St. at Weber Avenue, Stockton.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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