Planning Commission continues South Fork guest ranch hearing

Site overview.

At the Wednesday, July 31, meeting of the Tulare County Planning Commission, planning director Aaron Bock recommended that the public hearing on the Sunshine Paradise Guest Ranch be continued. The vote to continue the hearing on the special use permit followed two hours of opposition testimony by more than a dozen South Fork residents and attorney Dennis Villavicencio, representing the Seligman family who lives nearby.

Villavicencio of Three Rivers, also a paid-call firefighter and swiftwater rescue team member, said that response time for emergency vehicles would be in excess of 30 minutes. The subject property is located 9.5 miles south of Highway 198 in Three Rivers, one-half mile beyond where the pavement ends on South Fork Drive.

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Several area residents testified to the dangerous condition of the roadway and that the development would add significant traffic impacts. That stretch of dirt road is narrow and rutted from recent storm damage.

Bock stated that the dirt portion and the rest of South Fork Drive is a “county-maintained roadway.”

The property is owned by Sunshine Paradise Guest Ranch of New York City, NY. The agent for the project is Michael Cannarozzi, a Three Rivers general contractor.

The application seeks authorization for a guest ranch on a four-acre portion of a 44-acre parcel located in the AF (Foothill Agricultural) Zone. Proposed are extended-stay vacation rentals for a maximum 15 people at a time.

The AF zoning allows a guest ranch with a special use permit.

Guest accommodations would include two single-story cabins, a bathroom structure, and five fire-proof teepees. The site will also include two single family residences.

The RMA contact person for the project is April Hill, (559) 624-7000.

 

Upper South Fork Drive.

 

House sites.

 

Riverside teepees.

17 thoughts on “Planning Commission continues South Fork guest ranch hearing

  • August 2, 2019 at 9:39 am
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    I appreciate my South Fork neighbors for attending the Wednesday hearing and am grateful that a lawyer is representing our interests. It seems obvious to me that developing properties on such a primitive dangerous road and in such an isolated location where the wildfire danger is extreme to say the least irresponsible.

    Reply
  • August 2, 2019 at 9:43 am
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    Thank you, John Elliott, for your fair and balanced reporting. This project is quickly gaining opposition for what we believe is an extreme wildfire hazard in an area with dismal response time. The upper portions of our drainages are unfit for commercial development.

    Additionally, the cabins and tipis are requiring an exemption to building standards in riparian zones. These structures will be built right off the river. Outside developers are purchasing relatively cheaper AF zoned lands and gaining huge tax breaks by operating commercial activities without paying commercially zoned taxes. Our watersheds and community deserve better.

    Reply
  • August 2, 2019 at 11:51 am
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    I always chuckle when a new business proposal comes to light in Three Rivers and invariably, our friends and neighbors line up to say, “hell no!! I’m here now and I don’t want anything to change “my space”! I’ve been watching it for over 50 years and I’m not old!!

    No doubt, good constructive feedback is crucial to any local project!! Lets give it! Let’s work just as hard to make three Rivers the welcoming place we’d like to THINK it is.

    I’m tired of the the “I’m here now, so close the gate” mentality that I’ve seen my whole life here in Three Rivers. We talk about our community being a good place to live and raise our kids, so let’s work to make the community a welcoming place it believes it is, as long as it’s not next door to you, of course….

    Reply
    • August 2, 2019 at 8:25 pm
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      Great and right on comment. Refreshing to read. Thank you Mr. Kulick !

      Reply
    • August 4, 2019 at 9:50 am
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      Commercial development should be kept within the guidelines set forth by our community, otherwise the process means nothing and we set precedent for putting development anywhere and everywhere. Growth for growths sake isn’t progress.

      Every single summer California loses tens of billions of dollars and many lives to catastrophic wildfire—not to mention entire towns. The analysis almost always reveal that development encroachments into unsafe areas are largely to blame. We need to keep these developments in town, near emergency access and proper infrastructure.

      The people living in our upper watersheds have formed communities over generations and learned to steward healthy lands. The last owners of the parcel Sunshine Paradise Ranch is located on decided to cut down dozens of invaluable old-growth sycamore, scarred and eroded slopes into the river (worsening overall water quality) and left a mansion hanging over the river before they got bored and left. This is being repeated towards commercial ends, with developers not paying their share of taxes towards our community.

      It’s hardly about who was here first. It’s about conservation and community resilience.

      Reply
  • August 2, 2019 at 12:00 pm
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    Michael Cannarozzi, Should know better to try a push a project like this. Three Rivers needs to stay focused on commercial developing along the scenic highway. Inside the town limits.

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  • August 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm
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    I’m ashamed of are community trying to stop Projects like this . That’s like saying you want to close ladybug which is at the end of South Fork which has camping sites fire pits and it’s all the way at the end and has almost no supervision. Projects like this benefit our little town bring employment ,tax revenue and Business to our community.

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  • August 3, 2019 at 9:04 am
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    To those of us who feel that Three Rivers always says no: When you say “ yes” to a development please tell specifics on how it will fit, be safe, be accessible, be environmentally safe ( keep water clean along drainages, maintain healthy trees or ground covers, be FIRE SAFE). When you can demonstrate such attributes or necessities I can better listen and have more welcoming attitudes. Change is always present. Any community changes constantly. The issues include guiding the changes for a healthy, diverse, vigorous, safe community I think.

    Reply
    • August 9, 2019 at 10:33 am
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      Well said!! There are strict wildland urban interface rules to building in the state response area. Doing “just enough” maybe isn’t good enough. We all need to aspire to do more than “just good enough” in our lives and in how we treat our lands.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 10:55 am
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    We have concerns about any development disregarding relevant rules, regulations, and/or basic safety and environmental standards. Retroactive permitting appeals seem worst. Designated zoning exists to guide development. Why should remote South Fork agricultural use zoning be modified to accommodate commercial projects already initiated without prior review and monitoring? When will North Fork and Mineral King succumb?

    Homeowner fire insurance policies already are being being cancelled locally. More commercial development in remote areas is dangerous, illogical, and foolish. We certainly hope Tulare County (Planning Commission, Public Safety (Fire, Sheriff), RMA and Board of Supervisors) pay careful attention to just how dangerous our current conditions are rated already.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 11:13 am
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    Arguments against excessive development in the South Fork back country are:

    Traffic. These arguments relate to increasing and higher speed traffic from people who are not familiar with a winding rural road, some with with steep banks. Even now we see clusters of vehicles going by our ranch from another guest ranch. In fact, this guest ranch asked if we had spaces available for shuttle parking so that guests do not have to negotiate the small unpaved roads to the upper South Fork Drive. Finally, there is increasing chances of impaired driving from non-resident party goers.

    Fire danger. These arguments are also obvious and relate to more people unfamiliar with the back country in which we live. A small *warming* fire, cigarettes, etc. can be the antecedents to a large valley fire. This is all compounded by the poor access to fire fighting equipment coming up a really unpaved rural road. Evacuation plans are another whole issue. Who knows the fire access roads? Do the owners ever participate in fire safe meetings? We never hear from, or interact with them as concerned members of our community about the danger of fires.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2019 at 4:30 pm
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    I wonder if the the ones that are for this project lives on South Fork ?

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  • August 10, 2019 at 1:15 pm
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    yes, so last night (8/10) we had a motorcycle accident roughly 1 mile above the Sunshine Paradise Ranch. over a 1 hour emergency response time there, and at least 45 minutes back, not including time for the tow truck difficulties. helicopter didn’t leave Three Rivers until a full 3 hours after accident was reported. thankfully the incident wasn’t fatal. last time there was an incident the ambulance got stuck.

    that the county is promoting commercial development in areas way beyond a 30 minute emergency response time is absolutely incredulous.

    Reply
  • September 13, 2019 at 9:53 am
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    For those who welcome development in and around Three Rivers because it will increase our tax revenues, please note that Three Rivers is not a “town”. It is an unincorporated area of Tulare County. Taxes, such as occupancy tax, sales tax, property tax, etc, belong to the County, which may, or may not decide to send some back to the community. It appears to me that the County Government greets developers with (virtually) open arms when they propose something commercial, but hem and haw when the needs of the community come up. They point to the “Plan” and say that their hands are tied and the development must be approved, even if it is a stretch to say it falls under the “Plan”. So, the question is: Will the County upgrade road access on South Fork? Will they upgrade emergency services to provide for not only this development, but other proposals as well? Will they actually READ the reports from their own experts about water quality and availability? Wildfire? Housing? Wildlife? And a myriad other concerns that people living in the urban/wildland interface have.

    Something to think about:

    Reply

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