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Image Link 03/15/2017

PLANNING COMMISSION Meeting
Elbert County Fairgrounds
– March 14, 2017

Welcome by chair Dan Rosales followed by pledge of allegiance and roll call (7 PC members in attendance).

Kyle Fenner announced that the BOCC has split the planning and building departments into 2 separate entities per the new county organizational chart. Plans to implement this change by May 1.

CITIZEN COMMENTS:

One citizen spoke about Dan Rosales' comments at a previous PC meeting (2/14/17) referring to Lions' Gate wildlife sanctuary. According to this citizen, Rosales stated, "It's a beautiful setting; that's where it will be." This citizen believes that this statement indicates that Rosales has made up his mind about the wild animal sanctuary and that he should, therefore, recuse himself from voting on this issue.
Rosales denied the statement.

STAFF REPORT/Lion's Gate Sanctuary:

Baseline employee (county subcontractor) reported on Lion's Gate Sanctuary (SU-16-0019 Use by Special Review). Request for relocation of an existing wild animal sanctuary which has operated off CR150 west of the town of Agate. Due to flooding damage, proposed to move to CR106 south of Elizabeth. New site - 43 acres, existing house and barn, will add 6 smaller (60x40 ft) and 1 larger (70x100) enclosure/s with chain link fence, electrified wire and barbed wire. Application originally submitted October 2016. BOCC hearing will be 4/12/17@9am. CDS staff recommended approval with the following conditions of approval: signage be removed, fees paid, proper recordation, well onsite not to be used for animal care (water will be delivered), Elizabeth Fire receive satisfactory documentation, and proper building permits secured for enclosures.

Applicant Joan Laub presented information about the proposed relocation. Reason for request: flooding has occurred in current location, increased acreage from approximately 40 acres to approximately 80 acres + or - (although animals will only be located on 2.2 acres of the increased acreage), and will no longer be visible from a county road. Addressed several considerations: aesthetics, water, noise, waste removal, smell, road usage, environmental and wildlife impacts, surrounding property values, and safety.

Co-applicant Peter Winney spoke about safety specifics/features.

An appraiser then stated that there's no precedent for if/how this will affect surrounding property values. An equine specialist stated that 3 horses taken to current facility for observation in close proximity to wild animals showed no adverse reactions.

QUESTIONS FROM PC:

  • *safety - need written procedures for transport, potential for escape, fires
  • *no current licensure for wolves (applicant claims not needed, PC member said not true)
  • *liability insurance amount
  • *letter of credit required by state for potential clean-up if sanctuary abandoned
  • *currently 13 animals with no plans for expansion
  • *flooding - some areas of concern in proposed location
  • *501(c)3 - solicit donations/hold fundraisers for food
  • *petition that applicant claims had approximately 1,000 signatures was an online petition with signatures from all over the world
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PUBLIC COMMENT (pro & con):

  • *public in no danger from sanctuary animals/perfect safety record/secure environment
  • *flooding in current location is actually minimal/can be mitigated
  • *good operators/clean operation
  • *current veterinarian for Lion's Gate spoke to excellent care animals receive
  • *what happens next if this is approved as far as future county approvals?
  • *one resident stated that the county approved a business next to his property; thus far that business has not met required conditions of approval, and the county has not enforced them
  • *fear of animals right across fences/children ride horses in close proximity
  • *safety concerns resulting from possible human error
  • *large majority of the letters supporting the move live more than 2 miles from proposed location
  • *not against the sanctuary; against the relocation
  • *not in harmony/incompatible with county guidelines
  • *county has obligation to protect character of neighborhoods/undermines property values
  • *site is visible from private road
  • *a "recognized" use is not always a "proper" use
  • *detrimental impact on the quality of life
  • *proposal found to be non-conforming 10 years ago

Applicant responded to concerns and more questions from PC.

Adjournment at 11:00 PM with a continuance on this issue until March 21, 2017@7PM in the BOCC room.
Jill Duvall