By SCOTT PESZNECKER
Four years and thousands of dollars later, a historic building on the outskirts of Copperopolis will finally be allowed to operate as a hotel.
Calaveras County supervisors yesterday voted unanimously to approve a zone change and conditional use permit for the Angels Hacienda, an eight-room building on Hunt Road that went up in 1930.
The 9 acres surrounding the Hacienda were rezoned from agricultural to recreational. The use permit allows the 10,000-square-foot Hacienda to operate as a hotel.
The rezone was necessary because hotels are not permitted on land zoned as agricultural.
The owners, Pam and Steve Hatch, have used their building as a hotel without needed permits since 1999. They got a use permit to operate the Hacienda as a retreat. But when they applied for a necessary occupancy permit, county planners said they first had to pave Hunt Road. The Hatches said they were told this could cost up to $10 million.
The county Planning Department had recommended against giving the Hatches their permits because of the state of Hunt Road. The narrow road has an "F" rating, lowest on an A-to-F scale.
However, supervisors voted against the recommendation because county planners offered no alternatives to denying the Hatches' request.
Although Supervisor Merita Callaway voted in favor of the Hacienda yesterday, she said she did so "reluctantly."
She said she is worried that the 250 people the hotel permit allows for parties or conferences could lead to vehicle accidents, injuries or even deaths on Hunt Road.
"I think it was a bad policy decision on our part, and I assume responsibility for my vote," Callaway said. "What do we do the next time?"
The Hacienda remains open for business. The Hatches have said they had put the place up for sale, but they could not be reached to say if they'd changed their minds.