Local News

Tuesday, May 13 2014 05:38 PM

Cleanup plan reached for Inyokern property

BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Kern County supervisors on Tuesday created a timeline for clean up of an Inyokern property that has become a source of heavy blowing dust and made neighbors miserable.

Under a plan proposed by Supervisor Mick Gleason, the property would be seeded with grass and a new well -- expected to be drilled this month -- would provide the water needed to keep the grass alive and lock the sand onto the property.

Dust and dirt would also be cleaned up from neighbors' property.

Gleason stopped short of declaring the property a public nuisance and dropping heavy fines -- $25,000 plus a $500-a-day penalty -- on property owner Michael McGee.

"I think he's sincere," Gleason said. But "I'm going to hold him accountable."

The item will come back to the board on June 24 and, if enough progress has been made, the penalties could be waived long-term.

The 80-acre property in the Inyokern area was stripped of surface vegetation in preparation for planting pistachio trees in February 2013.

But the trees never went in and the pervasive winds in the Mojave Desert blew dust and sand onto the neighborhood to the east, sending it through windows and doors to coat the insides of people's homes.

Kern County Engineering, Surveying and Permit Services officials got involved and McGee has worked to put up miles of wind fencing, water the property and prepare a sprinkling system to plant and grow grass on the property.

Neighbors question McGee's commitment to keep his promises and permanently solve the problem.

Gleason said he will make sure the Board of Supervisors has enough leverage on McGee to ensure the impact to the neighbors is handled appropriately.

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