Several cabins sitting along the creek on John Hooper’s property were one source of contention in the Rock Creek Canyon Project, which was given the green light by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night. (Photo: Lunch)
In between snow storms the Mono County Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday evening, Dec. 21, at the Crowley Lake Community Center to make the final decision on John Hooper’s Rock Creek Canyon Project. Board members ultimately voted in favor of the project, deciding that its benefits outweighed the issues of concerned that had been raised by the community and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG).
The project had already been to the Mono County Planning Commission, which gave its recommendation to move forward on Dec. 10. The community members that had attended, however, were dissatisfied with the Commission’s recommendation so many of them attended Tuesday night’s meeting to see if they could persuade the Supervisors to vote in a different direction, since the supervisors were responsible for the final decision.
Representatives of DFG had attended the Planning Commission meeting to point out that the study for the project that had been done on the deer herd was done during the wrong time of year. They requested that another study be completed.
The community’s main concern was potential non-conformance issues with the project. Hooper is planning to keep three of the original cabins on the property and connect them by corridors to news homes that will be built. The original cabins are not within the 30-foot setback from the creek that the County imposed in 1990 because they were built prior to that date. The community members who spoke out believed that Hooper should have to follow the new 30-foot setback policy because he would be remodeling the old cabins and connecting them to new structures.
Hooper, however, said that since he planned to remove 7,500 square feet of other non-conforming structures on the property, the benefit outweighed the approximately 775 square feet of non-conforming expansion he planned to add.
The Supervisors ultimately agreed with him.
“We want to work with someone who wants to make a bad situation better,” said Supervisor Vikki Magee-Bauer. She likened the property, which had been in a major state of disrepair prior to Hooper purchasing it, to the property where the Double Eagle in June Lake now sits.
“The Double Eagle was a trailer park before,” Magee-Bauer explained. “Someone took a bad situation and made it better, and that same opportunity exists here. We’re not voting on a new building in the 30 foot setback, it’s already there.”
As for the deer, Supervisor Byng Hunt seemed to sum up what his fellow supervisors were thinking when he opined that “the deer herd will survive with or without the project.”
Supervisor Hap Hazard, who represents the Swall Meadows/Paradise portion of the county, claimed he was still undecided on what to do at the beginning of the meeting. He later, however, came to the conclusion that Hooper should be allowed to move forward as he wished.
The Board voted unanimously in support of option two, which addressed non-conformance issues. Option two does not allow any net increase in square footage within the 30-foot setback by using smaller corridor connections. The existing footprint will be decreased by the same amount of square footage proposed for new construction.
“It zeroes out removal and expansion,” Hazard said.
In regard to any affordable housing that Hooper would be required to supply, the Board asked that staff research whether it would be better for Hooper to build a unit on the property or pay an in lieu fee, so that a unit could be built somewhere else in the county in a location that might be more in need of affordable housing.