Fremont Valley on council agenda

County planner to give presentation on controversial proposal

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Details relating to the proposed Fremont Valley development that has raised concerns among local residents — primarily regarding the potential impact the project could have on the regional water supply — will be presented at tonight’s meeting of the Ridgecrest City Council.

Kern County Planning Department Director Lorelei Oviatt, who has been the lead in the draft environmental impact report, will give an overview of the Fremont Valley Preservation water banking and solar project by AquaHelio Resources.

Plans include several sites for water banking and a solar field in the area near Cantil and California City. The primary controversy surrounds AquaHelio’s potential to apply for conditional use permits in the future to allow the extraction and sale of native water outside the county.

Members of the council, in response to concerns expressed at the public microphone, discussed at a previous meeting drafting a letter in opposition to the project. Vice Mayor Chip Holloway cautioned the city against taking a position before hearing a presentation.

However, a letter of opposition has been included for council adoption in the consent calendar, which includes routine items that generally need no discussion before taking action.

The letter was drafted by attorneys, according to a city staff report, “on behalf of multiple public and private entities located with the Fremont Valley and Indian Wells Valley groundwater basins.

“Ridgecrest City Council is committed to protecting the natural resources of this community for the citizens now and in the future,” states a staff report accompanying the draft of the letter.

“Information and the environmental impact report of the Fremont Valley Project are extensive and there has not been sufficient time to review and evaluate this information.

“The Indian Wells Valley Water District, along with other agencies in the region, has opposed Fremont Valley Preservation Project at this time and Ridgecrest Council is requested to send a letter of opposition to the project.”

Discussion and other action items include the appointment of members to an ad hoc committee to review recommend amendments to the municipal code, receipt of the Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau report and approval of a letter of support for Quad State Associates to the Kern County Board of Supervisors.

The council is also slated to present a proclamation and certificates of appreciation to IWV Seniors Football Team honoring their championship victory and service awards to employees who have achieved milestones.

City Manager Dennis Speer will present results of the pavement management study.

Other items on the consent calendar include:

• Resolution releasing a deferred street improvement covenant

• Resolution authorizing deferred lien agreement for street improvements to North Downs Street

• Resolution allocating $375,000 in Tax Allocation Bond funds for a power pole relocation associated with the Ridgecrest Boulevard project

• Resolution requesting authorization to enter into a program supplemental agreement with the State Department of Transportation relating to the upgrade of traffic signals and pavement markings at various intersections

• Resolution approving a procedure for establishing strategic planning priority goals

• Authorization of a loan agreement between the city and the RACVB

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in Ridgecrest City Council Chambers. The public is invited to attend. Proceedings will be broadcast live on Mediacom channels 6 and 41 and streamed on www.justintv.com (search Ridgecrest).

Story First Published: 2013-12-18