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Neighbors crash wedding plans


An Old Wards Ferry Road couple yesterday withdrew controversial plans to hold weddings and other special events on Williamson Act land near Jacobs Road.

Ron and Linda Peterson made the move after more than a dozen neighbors had urged Tuolumne County supervisors to deny their permit application. Many of those neighbors took time off work yesterday and hung posters in the county boardroom before making impassioned pleas to keep the area quiet and safe.

But the permit never got to a vote: After about three hours of testimony, Ron Peterson withdrew his request and said he'd come back with revisions.

The Petersons asked to hold special events — particularly weddings — on their 36.6-acre parcel, where they have also planted 8 acres of grapes.

They asked to host a maximum of 250 people any day of the week until 8 p.m. from April through October, complete with music, dancing and other wedding activities.

Though many neighbors have stood up for the project, others have been just as vocal in their opposition, particularly when it comes to noise and traffic.

Because of "incompatibility" issues with the neighborhood, the Tuolumne County Community Development Department has recommended from the outset that the project be denied.

Also, the California Department of Conservation, in a letter that arrived yesterday, said that the use is incompatible with the Williamson Act. The Act gives property-tax breaks to owners who keep their land in largely agricultural and open-space uses.

The Tuolumne County Planning Commission, after wading through neighbors' comments at July and August meetings, recommended that the Petersons' proposal — which then would have allowed gatherings of up to 300 people until 10 p.m. — be denied.

But the commission said that supervisors should approve the permit if modified.

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