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Controversial “Wedding” Proposal Withdrawn

A farmer has withdrawn a controversial proposal to host large weddings, receptions and other events on his farmland on Old Wards Ferry Road.

Ron Petersen had wanted to host events with as many as 300 people in attendance on his property. But instead of his proposal, he might have been better off bringing a lightning rod to the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors chambers on Tuesday.

After about 2 hours of mostly negative testimony to the Board, Petersen withdrew the proposal. Before he made that decision, it appeared that the board might deny it anyway.

One of Petersen’s neighbors, Jeff Morrison, said the project would bring noise, traffic problems, and possibly drunken driving to the rural area. “No matter how you place (loud) speakers, you cannot turn down the voices of 150 to 250 partying people,” Morrison said.

Another neighbor pointed to the fact that Old Wards Ferry Road has no lighting. At night, “It´s as dark as the inside of a cow,” that neighbor said.

Another issue that was very important to the Supervisors was the effect their decision might have on the Williamson Act. Under a Williamson Act contract, Petersen receives property tax relief because he also uses the land for agriculture. He has an 8-acre vineyard on the same parcel.

Supervisor Paolo Maffei said he believed approving a commercial use on that kind of land “violates the spirit” of the Williamson Act, which seeks to preserve agricultural land by giving the owners a break on their property taxes.

Petersen can re-submit his project if he chooses to.