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Ag Zoning Code Causing a Divide in Calaveras County

By Vanessa Turner

Rural property owners in Calaveras County remain up in arms over the proposed agriculture zoning code that will go before the Board of Supervisors at 1:30 p.m. Monday, but board members are hopeful a solution can be met.

The new code, approved by the Planning Commission last month, is being toted by the agriculture community as a document that will change the face of farming by diversifying business opportunities.

It also clarifies and changes restrictions on specific uses.

A group of homeowners in Rural Residential (RR) zones, that call themselves the Coalition to Save Our Rural Residential, say some of those uses, particularly heavy commercial uses, are not appropriate near their homes.

RR is one of four zones affected by the new code.

“I believe they are closer to compromise than a lot of people perceive,” Supervisor Bill Claudino said about the two sides. “Rural residents have, like anybody, property rights and they´re afraid they´ll be overrun by commercial activities. The agriculture community has made concessions and I believe they´ll be able to work out a viable solution.”

Some board members are feeling pressure to make a decision Monday.

“It is time to make a decision but not time to rush into a decision,” Supervisor Merita Callaway said.

“Hopefully we can get this taken care of on Monday,” Supervisor Victoria Erickson said. “I know a lot of hard work has gone into it.”

The board has scheduled two hours for the public hearing and discussion, she said.

Supervisor Tom Tryon said he would reserve his comments for Monday.

Callaway said she´s “really focusing on the document, … going through it really carefully. I want to make sure I understand it. … There´s some really good things in there.”

Callaway and Erickson feel both sides have good arguments.

The RR coalition said it filed an appeal to the Planning Commission´s decision, but according to Planning Director Bob Sellman it will be up to the board to determine the validity of the appeal.

Sellman said, “We always question whether an appeal on a recommendation is a valid appeal.”

The commission didn´t technically decide on the code, it merely “sent forward” the code and “recommended” the board consider it.

Contact Vanessa Turner at vturner@calaverasenterprise.com.

Reprinted with permission from the Calaveras Enterprise