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Controversial Apartment Complex Approved

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Sonora, CA – The Tuolumne County Supervisors unanimously approved a controversial 80 unit apartment complex in Columbia.

In April, a heated public hearing caused the board to ask the staff to review issues concerning traffic, water, drainage, parking, zoning and legal questions surrounding the project. Tonight the staff reported back with no major complications in those areas. However, the board did add two conditions to its approval. Those included doing impact studies if blasting is necessary for building and planting larger trees to help with the landscaping.

At the April meeting, the board ended the public hearing on the project, but that didn’t stop a heated debate tonight. One resident blasted the board for creating an eyesore and told them they should be ashamed of themselves.

John Buckley of the Central Sierra Environmental Resources Council told the board, “We don’t need more polarization over planning. It would be nice to have projects, especially an apartment project, which is needed in the county and that is my perspective. I think it’s unfortunate that either because this site is such a controversial site or because there isn’t a willingness to scale down and negotiate, that the sides couldn’t find that middle ground.” District Five Supervisor Karl Rodefer agreed with Buckley that an opportunity was missed for all sides to work together on the plan.

Board Chair Randy Hanvelt told the crowd he is an advocate of private property owner’s rights and that there is no crystal ball that can tell if crime will increase or what kind of people will move into the apartments.

He summed up his yes vote this way, “I can’t even choose my own neighbors, I have no clue who they are, but I have to assume that they are going to be reasonable good citizens of our community, and treat then accordingly, and welcome them into the community.” Hanvelt added, “Our County is losing population because people that are looking for housing like this are going outside the county and that’s sad. I do look at this place as a place for my children or grandchildren to live. I wish they could live here, so I think this just adds one of those opportunities. I do not think it is a negative. There are other things along Parrotts Ferry that are two stories and high density. I think it’s a positive step forward for our community and I’m voting for it.”

The Golden State Holding project will be spread over 5.3 acres at the northwest corner of the intersection of Union Hill Road and Parrotts Ferry Road. The complex includes six buildings, a clubhouse, swimming pool, detached vehicle garages, and covered carports.