Newberry CSD Files Appeal
On Daggett Solar Project  -
Is CSD Serious?

    Click on the above illustration for the full 18-page appeal filing.

Posted: October 13, 2019
Newberry Springs Community Alliance

Last-Minute Filing

   Within the final few minutes allowed, the Newberry CSD streaked-in and filed an appeal to the county's Board of Supervisors.

   The appeal asks that the county's Planning Commission's approval of the Daggett Solar Power project's Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) be rejected due to serious deficiencies.

    The Newberry CSD's challenge against the project's FEIR is the best strategy for the community to take as the FEIR is the solar project's Achilles' heel.

The Appeal Maze

    At a yet-to-be scheduled public hearing, the Supervisors will decide on the CSD's appeal.  Should the Supervisors agree that there are serious deficiencies, the FEIR will be returned to the county's Land Use Services Department for correction of the alleged defects.  If the deficiencies can be corrected, the FEIR will then be placed before the Planning Commission again for approval.

    Should the Supervisors reject the CSD's appeal, the CSD can file an appeal to the Superior Court or allow the Planning Commission's decision to proceed to the Board of Supervisors for a public hearing for the project's approval.

    If the Supervisors approve the project, their decision can also be appealed to the courts.

Filed Contents

    The appeal document that the Newberry CSD filed is disappointing.  It was entirely written by Newberry CSD director Jack Unger who took it upon himself to write it.  Since he wrote a technical book over 16-year ago on wireless networks, he believes that he is qualified to write.

    Unfortunately, Unger doesn't have any legal background, he lacks technical CEQA knowledge, and he does not have any personal experience in CEQA based appeals.  He also deafened his ears to suggestions to have a CEQA expert assist him in the preparation.

    Consequently, the appeal document lacks professionalism, strength and it wanders argumentatively at multiple points.  It is deficient by missing some points and the language of what it should encompass.  The community now has a deficient appeal to address a deficient FEIR.  Such would have humor if the stakes weren't so high for the residents.

   There was an expectation that Jack Unger would share his draft as requested with others for their input before the filing of the document with the county.  He did not allow the requested reviews.

    Sadly, in representing the community, Unger's filing includes a silly suggestion to the Supervisors that they "direct Clearway" (the applicant) to "...move the project to a new, more easterly location that is downwind from the communities of Newberry Springs, Daggett and Yermo..."  Unger's proposal is unacceptable and repugnant.

    First, the Supervisors have no authority to direct Clearway to move anywhere.  Second, Newberry occasionally has strong easterly winds and flipping sides does not remove many of the community's issues with the project.

The Grit

    So, how good is the appeal application?  Well, although it should be stronger, Unger did a fair job.  He covered many of the main points.  The main legal weight of the document falls upon the good exhibits that are attached.

    A troubling aspect is that the application was not done with the knowledge of a CEQA expert.  Despite many millions of dollars of Newberry's current land value riding on the outcome, Jack Unger and the other CSD directors have been reluctant to spend a few thousand dollars to fortify Newberry's solar defense.  No money was spent on the preparaton of the appeal application.

    Unger's filing will probably be closely reviewed by County Counsel.  It will be picked-apart by Clearway Energy's high-powered attorneys.  Later, it may be scrutinized by a state or federal court.  The CSD's filing should have been more than Jack Unger writing by the seat of his unqualified pants.  It is the community's 2,200 residents' health and property values that are at risk.

What Is Wrong?

    When pride, self-ego and maintaining a few thousand public dollars appear to supersede the health, financial worth, and the well being of the community's residents, we need to question ourselves as to who we have on the CSD board.

    The appeal is a critical legal process for Newberry.  The CSD has recently been quick to hire an attorney at whim for a few acre-feet of water, yet they don't want to spend available community funds for the biggest assault ever that may destroy Newberry as we know it.

    The CSD should have declared WAR against the Clearway Energy project and have allocated all available funds to fight it.

Good & Bad

    Jack Unger did a fabulous job bringing the appeal matter before the CSD board, and the directors did a fabulous job in adopting Unger's motion.

    Unfortunately, the usual Newberry quagmire of egotism continues to radiate from the CSD swamp.  The Newberry Springs community is in a fight for its life.  If the CSD board can not understand that it needs to be spending funds for professional help to fight a multi-billion dollar project, we will all lose.

Where Do We Go From Here?

    The CSD's directors have apparently placed the progress of the CSD's appeal solely in Jack Unger's lap.  He appears too busy with his other endeavors to do much and the other directors may be feeling that they have done enough with their September 24th vote authorizing the appeal.  Their vote declared war on the solar project but are they now walking away from follow-up action?

    An excellent presentation by a collaborative community effort now needs to be prepared and presented to the county's Board of Supervisors.  Will the CSD board's apathy and egos interfere?  Preparing the presentation needs to be started now and it should be with community participation and professional advice.

    The CSD board continues to need community input.

    The next Newberry CSD meeting is Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at 6 P.M.  The public is urged to attend.  This isn't the time to slack off.  The clock is ticking!  We need to acquire a confirmed action plan from the CSD and community attendence is critical.

    Should you wish to participate in the defense of Newberry Springs, please e-mail us and provide contact information.

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