By ABBY SOUZA
While nearly 75 people stood to show support for a proposal to build senior housing next to an East Sonora church, Tuolumne County supervisors in a special meeting yesterday denied the proposal.
In a 3-2 vote with Supervisors Dick Pland and Larry Rotelli dissenting the supervisors voted down the Christian Heights Assembly of God project, and said they hope the church will work with county planners to revise plans and return for another try at getting the project OK'd.
"There might be some creative solutions to look into," Supervisor Paolo Maffei said.
The project, which the Tuolumne County Planning Commission also denied in May, includes 17 senior condominiums, a 3,332-square-foot recreation building, 53 parking spaces and a 1,500-square-foot activity center on the church's land off Tuolumne Road, inside the Christian Heights subdivision on Joshua Way.
The project had the support of most of the Christian Heights congregation, many of whom showed up at yesterday's meeting held at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds to accommodate the crowd to show support to Daryl Sarina, the church's business administrator.
During Sarina's presentation to the board, he said that in order to save time, he wanted everyone who came to support the project to stand rather than come forward to speak.
The congregation and about 10 leaders from area churches, all on one side of the Manzanita Building, stood at once. Maffei also asked project opponents to stand, then just the supporters who live near the proposed development, before board Chairman Mark Thornton stopped him in order to move on with the meeting.
Only Sarina and his lawyer, Zachary Gray from the Florida-based Christian Law Association, spoke in favor of the project.
Sarina outlined and argued against seven key objections he has heard from project opponents: added traffic, a decrease in surrounding property values and area for wildlife, the area's conflicting zoning for such a project, and an increase in water runoff and noise were among the objections.
The church operating as a commercial entity was another issue opponents raised during the public hearing yesterday.