Planning Commission Approves Alcohol-Drug Rehabilitation in East Sonora | news


A proposed plan for an alcohol and drug abuse recovery, treatment and detox center in a residential neighborhood on Susan Way in East Sonora was pushed ahead Wednesday night when the Tuolumne County Planning Commission approved a 4-1 Conditional Use Permit with two members absent.

More than a dozen people who live on or near adjacent properties have spoken out against the project in the mixed neighborhood of Mono Village, south of Mono Way and east of The Junction shopping center in East Sonora.

The proposed project is billed as a recreation, treatment and detox center to be housed in an existing building on just over an acre property at Susan Way 19401, approximately 325, non-medical 24-hour housing services in a group setting for up to to provide 14 adults walk from the intersection of Susan Way and Stone Lane.

The decision to approve the project was made during a Zoom Commission meeting that lasted approximately an hour and 15 minutes.

Despite loud opposition to the project during public comments, 12 written replies against the project and the dissenting opinion of Commissioner Larry Beil, Commissioners Matt Nutting, Catherine Santa Maria, Jerry Morrow and Mike Gustafson approved the measure. Commissioners Kara Bechtle and Linda Emerson were not present.

If you want to challenge the decision of the planning commission on Tuesday, you can do so by filing a complaint with the district supervisory board by the end of business on June 28th.

Each appeal against a commission decision costs $ 1,000 to cover staff time to process it.

County Community Development staff wholeheartedly recommended approving the conditional use permit of the project with more than 40 different terms. In some cases, they listed their responses to opposing arguments.

Christopher Khan, the project applicant who would head the center, also spoke during the public comment before the planning committee voted to approve the conditional use permit. Gustafson, the chairman of the commission, closed the public comment on the matter just before 7pm, less than an hour after the 6pm session started

Khan identifies as a Registered Level II Addiction Specialist certified by the Breining Institute of Sacramento County. He is currently renting the property from Real Deal California, LLC, which is being sold to him in trust.

Nutting spoke out in favor of the project, saying, “The main cause of homelessness is alcohol and drug abuse. If we don’t, we will have more homeless problems. I support it. “

Morrow had no questions for the county staff, Khan, or anyone else before the commission vote.

“This facility is something we all need in this county,” said Morrow. “I would vote yes to this facility.”

Beil said he and other people who oppose the Susan Way project understand the need for recovery, treatment, and detox centers for alcoholism and substance abuse.

“I appreciate what you are trying to do,” he said. “What we as a planning committee consider is appropriate land use … I do not agree that this is not an extension of use. This used to be a house in the neighborhood. There is a place for these facilities, but not in a neighborhood. This is a treatment facility, not just accommodation. “

At the beginning of the meeting, Beil said it was “hard to see” that the new project on Susan Way was “not an extension of use”.

In November, the district’s community development staff sent notices to 200 neighboring property owners within 300 meters of the planned project, giving them the opportunity to comment on the project.

Responses questioning the impact on traffic and declining the project in December came from local residents and property owners Gerald Parker, RG Shelton, Patrick and Karen Chabot, Candra Neff, Stephen Moye, Steven Hall, Louise Sener, Loree and Larry Davis , Terry Harper, Wendy Stephens, and others who did not sign their handwritten responses or whose signatures were illegible under their responses.

Resident Robin Mattos called Tuesday to ask questions and express her opposition to the project during a public comment ahead of the commission’s vote.

“As this application was made, is it a non-medical treatment facility or a medical one?” asked Mattos. “How is the zoning checked? The planned use will be very intensive 24 hours a day. There are inconsistencies. Why are they going to need nurses if it’s not medical? “

Khan tried to answer some of Mattos’ questions. He noted that the back of the project lot on Susan Way is an industrial park and the other lots include a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. substation and a commercial sawmill.

Another caller, Renee Nelson, told commission and county officials that “some things are missing from the staff’s report. They twist the zoning in terms of recreation and living. “

When Khan spoke a second time, Mattos asked for more time, pointing out that “in fairness, the applicant was allowed to speak twice”.

Gustafsen closed the public comment shortly before 7 p.m. anyway, the commission approved the project in its roll-call vote and the meeting was over at 7:15 p.m.

The county staff prepared a report detailing the history of the site where the proposed project will be located. The story included the fact that the property currently includes 7,783 square feet of buildings, driveways, 15 parking spaces, and landscaping.

In April 1983, a county building permit was granted to build an 820-square-foot extension to a previous resident, Richardson’s Family Fitness Center.

In May 2014, the county community development director approved a site survey exemption to allow interior remodeling and conversion of the authorized use of the Richardson’s Family Fitness Center to the Foothill Leadership Academy charter school.

The school closed in 2019 after the Tuolumne County’s Department of Education refused to renew its five-year charter.

In October, the district’s community development department received the application for a conditional use permit for the Refuge Recovery Center.

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