County gets zero benefits for putting residents at risk
By Joe Asciutto
The approval for the projected Coyote Wells / Wind Zero Para-Military training facility, in the Nomirage area of Ocotillo, CA, has now been rescinded. Along with that goes the false hope that this facility would create a large number of jobs for the residents of Imperial County. Some people are elated about the rescinding and some are not, but whichever side you are on, almost everyone lost in this ordeal.
A condition of approval required the developer, Wind Zero, to hold Imperial County harmless for any and all litigation. Shortly after the approval, the Desert Protective Council and the Quechan Indian tribe filed law suits. Wind Zero then refused to meet their obligation, and after failing to receive payments for their legal expenses, Imperial County rescinded the approval and permits.
However, the Wind Zero project should never have been approved in the first place. To approve a para-military training facility, allowing automatic weapons, simulated explosions, etc, to operate 365 days a year directly across the road from an established residential neighborhood was absurd. Not even the United States Military would allow gun ranges across the street from their domestic housing areas. Moreover, it directly violated Imperial County's own community plan for that area.
The Wind Zero people knew the land was zoned residential when they purchased it but they didn't care. They were sure they could get Imperial County to ignore the best interests of the citizens in that area and grant them a construction permit. They were correct and through much deception they succeeded. Most of the Imperial County decision makers ignored the evidence that much of what the Wind Zero people were presenting was false.
The primary motivation to approve the project was jobs for Imperial County. However anyone, taking the time to closely examine the evidence presented by the opponents of the project, could only conclude that those job numbers were highly exaggerated and therefore very questionable.
It certainly appears, by the approval of the Wind Zero project and now the Ocotillo Express wind turbines, that all anyone needs to do is promise jobs and money, and from that point on any facts presented by the opposition will be ignored. The best formula to "sucker" Imperial County is to promise employment and revenue, then sprinkle a little seed money around, and almost any project can now get approved.
The Imperial County Planning Commission and then the Board of Supervisors, by catering to those people whose mind set is "Imperial County needs jobs and therefore we don't care what harm a project might do to others," obtained neither jobs nor increased revenue. Instead, Imperial County residents must now pay over a quarter of a million dollars of unreimbursed legal expenses. The Wind Zero Para-Military training facility, that would have been constructed adjacent to an established residential neighborhood, should never have been approved in the first place. Everyone lost in this ordeal, nobody won.....except maybe a few lawyers.
View video of hearing May 8, 2012 at which approval was rescinded: http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M1260
View video of December 13, 2010 hearing at which project was previously approved: (http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M1122)
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