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Despite Strong Neighbor Objections, FOAC Rescue/Kennel Facility Approved

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Sonora, CA – The Tuolumne County Supervisors Chamber was packed this afternoon as the non-profit Friends of the Animal Community (FOAC) asked for a conditional use permit to build a new dog/cat rescue and kennel boarding facility at Yosemite Road near the Woodham Carne Road intersection.

As earlier reported here, the property is zoned residential; there would be up to 40 dogs and 20 cats housed in the proposed 5,000-square-foot building, along with four outside dog runs. In April, as detailed here, a split vote by the Tuolumne County Planning Commission sent the issue to be resolved by the board of supervisors.

At today’s meeting, several people spoke in favor of FOAC and the need for the facility. And while many neighbors praised FOAC and its work in the community, most were opposed due to noise concerns. Other worries included property values, traffic, lighting, water, and waste, which District 3 Supervisor Anaiah Kirk took issue with, stating, “This is a crap sandwich because whatever we decide today is going to upset half the room and appease half the room,” advised Kirk.

The Community Development Department recommends that 68 conditions be required, including maximum noise levels, erosion control, fencing, lighting, and fire protection measures. Kirk wanted to add several additions, among them that the facility’s doors and windows are closed most of the time, a generator is installed on-site, and a sound test is conducted after the facility is built. District 1 Supervisor David Goldemberg agreed with Kirk that noise was the top concern for residents and liked the test idea, commenting, “We’ve got a lot of discussion about sound. I made a point of saying that we need to ensure that the sound is going to be kept within that building and not blasting to the outside, and to me, the only way you’ll be able to do that is if you have some sort of sound test at the end before they [FOAC] can get finalized.”

District 2 Supervisor Ryan Campbell countered, “I think if there’s a problem with the sound, it will be quite clear to anyone. I don’t think you’ll need a study to assess that.”

District 5 supervisor Jaron Brandon agreed that a generator was needed, sharing, “That’s something that makes a lot of sense to me. It’s something that, as soon as it opens [the FOAC facility], again we do have outages. It’s a metal building, especially since we’re adding a condition for the doors and the windows. If the power goes out, there won’t be an option in this to cool it off that way.”

Supervisors Brandon and Campbell both had additional conditions as well, such as a defense walkway between units, hours the dogs could be outside, a max at one time, security cameras, and having animal control approve the animal waste management plan.

The final vote was 3-1 to approve the permit and generator, not the sound test. Kirk was the no-vote, and District 4 Supervisor Kathleen Haff was not in attendance.