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Supervisors Moving Ahead On Columbia Property for Behavioral Health Housing

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Sonora, CA – After hearing strong opposition from neighbors to Tuolumne County buying a Columbia property for those with mental health and substance abuse challenges, the supervisors voted in favor of posting a notice of intent to purchase it.

The property located at 22039 Parrotts Ferry Road, across from the Inner Sanctum Cellars Basecamp & Event Center, is two acres in size and has four homes, with further details reported here. At Tuesday’s board meeting during a public hearing, twelve people spoke, including the winery owners, with a majority raising concerns regarding the narrow road and public safety, possible open mines on the property, the actual property lines, lowering property values, etc. The latter is an issue District 5 Supervisor Jaron Brandon, who represents the area, echoed, “I do think that we should be looking to find places that make sense, not across from a place that sells alcohol and nestled within a residential subdivision.”

Another issue brought up by the residents was the overall cost of the property, $945,000, which they say is too much for the site, especially with all the cleanup and renovations that will have to be done, prompting District 4 Supervisor Kathleen Haff to comment, “I am also concerned it could become a money pit.” However, she added, “All of the concerns brought forward, this is going to be the time that we root those out and figure out how valid, how concerning, and how important those are because it may come to a point where those concerns may outweigh the benefits that this facility would provide. This is what we need to look into.”

District 2 Supervisor Ryan Campbell agreed, stating, “What we’re deciding here today isn’t the purchase of the property. We’re not signing the check, and I think I’ve raised some issues with it. The community members have raised some issues with it. I think our staff has heard those and is going to take those into consideration and then come back to the board where there is going to be a final decision made.”

Staff also noted that behavioral health has been running two similar facilities in the county for years with few problems or complaints. After the 3 to 1 vote with Brandon opposing, the next step is for staff to look into the concerns, have the homes inspected, and then hold public meetings on the purchase, with the final decision coming at their April 2nd regularly scheduled meeting. Supervisor Anaiah Kirk did not vote because he had to leave the meeting early.