County clears way for land use

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat /

Local property owners will be able to build a home on land that was previously unavailable for development, but not without adding some restrictions for using much of the rest of the property.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors approved multiple land-use changes during its afternoon session Tuesday. One of those changes re-zoned Charles and Sandra Thomason's property at the end of Sunrise Drive east of Confidence Road to allow them to build a home on the site.

The approximately 18-acre property was zoned with about 10 acres residential and the remainder as open space, which restricts the development and use of the land.

Bev Shane, director of the Community Resources Agency, said the zoning was set as a mitigation measure for a land division.The California Department of Fish and Game has stated that the area contains habitat for the protected great gray owl.

The small portion of site where the Thomasons want to build was part of the open space, and Shane said Fish and Game raised concerns about cutting into the habitat.

"Because of the proximity, there could be some concern," she said, adding that according to the stateagency, "large trees could be nesting sites" for the bird.

As a compromise, the property owners agreed to change the land use designation to make more than six acres dedicated to a stricter open space zoning that doesn't allow timber thinning or some other uses authorized on most open space land.

"Some of the things we had to conform with were a bit arduous," said Sandy Thomason. "But I bowed to the people who need to get their studies done and I conformed to it."

The supervisors also approved the following zone changes:

• Vacated two public road easements on Old State Highway 120 at Rush Creek Resort and at the northeast end of Justice Way.

• Agreed to add about 763 acres of land at LaGrange Road and Old Don Pedro Road to an agricultural preserve that is 645 acres.

• Rezoned a 20.7-acre property at 18232 and 18235 Aarondale Road from 20-acre minimum residential parcels to 10-acre minimum.

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