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Supervisors Deny Church Proposal

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After nearly three hours of public testimony and more than an hour of discussion among county staff, the Tuolumne County Supervisors voted to deny Christian Heights Church an amendment to the county general plan.

The church on Joshua Way in Sonora wants to build a senior citizens housing community with 17 condos, an activity center and recreation building on their property — property that currently is zoned for one dwelling on each two acres.

Supervisor Mark Thornton wasn´t sure a smaller proposal wouldn´t fly. “It still might not be a done deal with me that 17 units would be appropriate ,” he said. “Maybe it should only be 14.”

Supervisors agreed with the May 7th county planning commission decision to deny Christian Heights Church a general plan ammendment and rezoning to build a senior citizens housing community.

Supervisor Jim Peterson seemed to be favoring the proposal at one point. “This particular project could probably go in with some modifications that wouldn´t have a tremendous impact on this particular neighborhood,” he said.

But Peterson continued by saying if the county allowed this type of cluster housing development, it would open the door for other similar type development.

Supervisor Mark Thornton told church leaders to meet with the county staff, the supervisors and community to come up with a revised plan.

Church Pastor Craig Andrus seemed understanding of the board´s decision. “We know the supervisors gave this long consideration, so we will take their response and consider our options for the future,” the pastor said. “We´re looking for the direction of doing what is best for the community, for our neighbors and for ourselves.”

The supervisors voted against the rezoning and general plan changes 3-2. They were clear in telling the crowd of about 160 people gathered at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds Tuesday that it´s not an issuse of denying affordable housing for senior population of the county.

Supervisor Dick Pland said the vote was not against the proposal. “Approval of the project is not what´s on the table today,” Pland said. The two options the supervisors were to decide upon were to either reject the proposal or send it onto county staff for an Environmental Impact Review with the project coming back to the board in about a year.