Union Democrat staff

County government

To The Editor:

An ironic juxtaposition of articles on the Oct. 19 front page. First, the continuing 10 year saga of the county's incompetence closing the Jamestown landfill that's still costing the county $800,000. Second, the county's new saga of incompetence: the law and justice center.

Without asking the voters the county bought the land on the come, long before state approval, all the while relying upon state financing for the courthouse. The first phase at county expense, infrastructure, was delayed because the county did not have the state and federal permits. But we had to do it right now to take advantage of the open trenches from the Lowe's job. Just like we had to buy the land right now to take advantage of state grants.

State grants come with conditions. We have to put up matching or better funds which we don't have now and didn't have when we were awarded and rejected a large grant in 2008, according to Craig Pedro. Nothing changed in the last three years but we went ahead anyway.

The county needs a lot of money to keep it going. Now they'll finally ask for the voters' approval of the project: "Please pass millions in general obligation bonds to finance this fiasco." If you don't we will waste what's been done so far.

Can we trust the county to effectively conduct a $250,000,000 project over the next 10 years? Or are we just setting up more failure and "red tape abounds" headlines?

Finish the infrastructure and sell the site to a company looking for a campus that will bring real jobs, not just big box retail, to the county.

S.C. Whitney


Taxation without representation

To the Editor:

I was dismayed by the poor performance by the majority of the Tuolumne County Planning Commission. They and the planning staff have dismissed their public trust obligations. Before the Commission was an application from Cedar Ridge Apple Ranch LLC to convert a small agricultural operation, surrounded by homes, into a major hard alcohol production facility and event center with other commercial facilities, including retail and food and beverage service. This substantial change of use, and resulting increases in fire risk, traffic, noise, litter and crime would be located in the middle of quiet rural homes at the end of Lyons Bald Mountain Road. There have been no traffic or infrastructure studies, and no fire risk and response plans for this area despite the high fire hazard. No assessment of neighborhood disturbance, noise, litter or crime has been offered. The Planning Department claims that the project is exempt from CEQA requirements to analyze and mitigate potential negative impacts. Numerous eloquent property owners were at the five hour meeting to respectfully disagree. But the majority on the Commission felt it was their responsibility to advocate for the developer, and Isaac Kight was blatantly dismissive of homeowner concerns.

There is a bias in our local government that agricultural land owners should do whatever they want. In fact, the developer's property has been subdivided numerous times to create rural residential homes and huge tax wind falls for the County. These home owners have as much right to use and enjoy their private property as anyone else and should expect to get treated fairly by local government.

Clay Knopf

Twain Harte