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US (CA): County supervisors require more review of greenhouse project

A rural Solvang resident’s proposal to install greenhouses adding up to 15,648 square feet encountered another stumbling block after the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors ruled that more environmental analysis should occur. 

On Feb. 9, the board voted 4-1 to require additional review because the proposed greenhouses “greatly exceed” exemptions for small structures cited under the California Environmental Quality Act and require the item to return to the board.

Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson, who opposed the motion, had suggested approving the project with extra conditions so it could move forward. Decker applied to build eight greenhouses adding up to 15,648 square feet on his 5-acre property at 988 Fredensborg Canyon Road to grow vegetables, after earlier seeking permission for the same project for cannabis.

After staff approval of the project, a neighbor appealed the decision, and the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission supported the appellant and rejected the project. That led Decker to file an appeal of the commissioners’ decision to the board.

Decker cited several county policies regarding support for agriculture. “Here’s the big one: Policy 1B, the county shall recognize the rights of operation, freedom of choice as to methods of cultivation—I choose greenhouse cultivation—choice of crop types or types of livestock, rotation of crops and all other functions within the traditional scope of agricultural management decisions,” he said. 

Neighbors have opposed the greenhouses, with several sending letters or speaking during Tuesday’s meeting, calling the Decker project inconsistent and incompatible with the neighborhood. Along with the size of the greenhouses, other concerns focused on light pollution and whether blackout curtains would avoid affecting nearby properties.

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