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Planners recommend parcel for renewable energy

The Planning Commission is recommending a 1,275-acre parcel be added to the city’s land management process list for renewable energy generation.

The parcel is within the Black Hills North area of the Eldorado Valley. It is currently designated as open lands in the master plan and zoned for government open space.

Earlier this year, a request for proposal was issued for a neighboring parcel, Black Hills South. Due to the interest for that area, Community Development Michael Mays said staff was requesting this northern portion be added to the land management plan.

“This is just the beginning of the process,” he said to the Planning Commission at its Nov. 20 meeting. “There would have to be appraisals if the land is going to be sold or a potential lease, (and) consideration for the master plan as well as the zoning.”

Mays also said staff was looking for the commissioners’ evaluation of the property and whether it would be appropriate for it to be added to the land management plan for renewable energy generation.

Commissioner Paul Matuska said that it seemed like the leases were encroaching on land that had recently been used for off-road vehicles and racing. He said he was in favor of renewable energy but asked staff if they had reached out to any off-road vehicle groups to see what they thought about the area.

Mays said staff had not had any direct conversations with the groups, but they were still able to use the dry lake bed, which is being preserved for recreation. Additionally, they can use the tortoise easement area in the Eldorado Valley as long as they stay on designated trails.

Chairman Fritz McDonald asked if designating this parcel of land for renewable energy production would affect that tortoise easement.

Mays said it would not as it is nowhere near it.

“I fought very hard not to have a landfill in there,” added Commissioner Cokie Booth. “I’m absolutely 100% for the solar. … I hope we move forward with it.”

Two of the commissioners said they agreed with the resolution but also wanted more options for the area to be researched.

McDonald said staff should encourage the City Council to look at ways to diversify the revenue stream from the Eldorado Valley and that setting up all of it for solar development could be setting up future generations for failure.

“I really believe that this City Council does need to take a serious look about updating the master plan,” said Commissioner Ernest Biacsi. “Get some serious input from the community, broad input as to what they really want to see.”

The land management process is an ordinance that helps give council a way to deal with land the city owns.

The commissioners unanimously approved the resolution.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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