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Tuolumne County Rolling Forward On General Plan Update

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Sonora, CA — After hearing the latest word at today’s supervisors’ meeting, it appears that the long in the works Tuolumne County General Plan Update that the board front-burnered last year might be completed by year’s end.

Reporting on its progress this morning, Community Resources Agency Director David Gonzalves, while acknowledging distractions along the way, happily noted, “It is a very good day for us to be at a point where I want to express to you and the public here that we are moving forward.”

Continuing, he shared that staff, counsel and consultants over the past year completed review of the draft documents, also thanking them for their work. “We have made our assessment as a team…we have looked at the EIR [Environmental Impact Report]…we have a strategy going forward,” he reported. Assistant Director Quincey Yaley echoed his comments, stating that the team was eager to move the General Plan Update over a major milestone and into production.

The action before the board, which unanimously passed 5-0, was a recommendation by Gonzalves to execute an agreement for the preparation of a recirculated EIR through the auspices of Ascent Environmental, Inc., for an amount not to exceed $191,205. Gary Jacobs, principal with the firm, assured the board that its intent in partnering with the county will be to capture public interest and comments along with ensuring that the resulting document is solid, objective, legally defensible and compliant.

Fresh Eyes On Past Efforts

Refraining from criticizing past work already done in this area, he said his firm looked at the initial EIR with “fresh eyes,” noting critical comments and areas of importance to the county and how to maintain a consistent approach to policies such as for agriculture so that they support the plan.

Pitching in his two cents, District 2 Hanvelt opined, “I am so happy that we are here. This [existing document] is so out of date…this is one of the most important things that we do for the benefit our people and given the opportunity…my comment is just that we have got to get it right.” District 5 Supervisor Karl Rodefer encouraged the consulting team not to be at all afraid of criticizing the previous effort. As a member of the General Plan working group, District 1 Supervisor Sherri Brennan emphasized, now that the project is rolling forward, that the group would be getting back to the board with regular updates.

Gonsalves emphasized, “I would not say that that everybody will agree with what we are going to be doing but there will be no surprises — and when the document is done it is a board’s policy and goal document — and that is what it will reflect.” Recalling meetings with constituents who were not pleased with past outcomes as well as those who have seemed to concur with the board’s direction and his department’s, he indicated there was more commonality than one would think and that the sides are “not that far apart.”

Chiming in, Yaney encouraged those in attendance and community members to get in touch with their comments and concerns. “Flood the phones — we want to hear from everybody,” she encouraged, adding that calls are being taken at 533-5633.

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