CA: Appeal of Santa Ynez Valley greenhouse denial stalls

An appeal of a denial by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission of a greenhouse near Solvang went unresolved Tuesday when the project was sent back to staff for an analysis of blackout curtains' effectiveness at blocking light at night.

It appeared the Board of Supervisors might have had enough “yes” votes to grant Steve Decker’s appeal of the decision to deny his project, proposed for Fredensborg Canyon Road, but the board ended up voting 4-1 to seek additional environmental review.

Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson voted “no” based on 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart’s assertion that not enough technical information had been provided to determine the system’s effectiveness, even though Decker said the system must block light both going out and coming in, and companies would not build the systems if they didn’t work.

“I do believe we have enough evidence to approve this project,” Nelson said. “I believe this will be the death of this project and the loss of six jobs — that’s an equity issue in this county.”

Although the staff said the board could specify that the environmental review focus on the night sky light pollution issue, the motion did not include that, which leaves it up to the Planning and Development Department to determine how much review will be given all categories of potential environmental impacts.

County ordinances require an applicant to pay the costs of environmental review, but Decker didn’t seem inclined to do that, which could prevent his appeal — and therefore his project — from being approved.

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