Ranchette ideas split in Sutter
With a finite resource such as land, everyone wants a say.
That's why the Veteran's Memorial Hall in Yuba City was packed for Thursday night's Sutter County forum about ranchettes.
Nearly 150 people showed up to listen and weigh in on the rural life attracting people to the county.
Rich Hall, the county's Community Services director, defined ranchettes as large homes on three to nine acres that are rezoned from agriculture to residential. They are dream homes for people who love rural life, but cannot - or do not want - to farm.
In the last five years, the county has approved 18 ranchettes. Another 13 ranchette plans are pending.
One of those is near Sib Fedora's walnut processing facility in Meridian.
“A walnut hulling operation is not a business I can simply move to a new location,” Fedora wrote to county supervisors. “My plant makes noise, creates dust and during different times of the year, we operate 24 hours a day.”
Fedora wrote that people who want to live in the country are not always willing to deal with the neighboring agricultural operations.
But Fedora, whose family has been farming near Meridian since the 1800s, does not speak for all farmers. Some say they should be able to divide and sell their land if they cannot make money farming.
Chris Hrones has already divided his land into ranchettes.
“The easier the criteria is, the more ranchettes you'll have,” Hrones said.
With that in mind, supervisors called Thursday's meeting to ask the community how easy the county's criteria ought to be.
Supervisor Larry Montna suggested consolidating ranchettes to areas where they are already being built.
Montna said when non-farmers move next to farms, it impacts agriculture.
“Dirt and dust is flying around farms, and people who move out there don't want to deal with that,” he said.
Montna figures ranchette areas would be well-located south of Yuba City on Caminito Avenue from Barry Road to Stewart Road, and south of Live Oak on Madden Avenue from Clark Road to Sanders Road.
“These areas already have ranchettes,” Montna said
The supervisor said he is not sure where his plan will go.
“This is just a study session. If somebody doesn't put an idea out there, nothing will get done,” he said. “This would keep (ranchettes) from spreading throughout the rest of the county.”
Montna figured creating ranchette areas would allow people to have their big houses on large lots, while limiting ranchette owners' contact with the dirty, noisy aspects of the country, which they may not have anticipated.
His plan also could address the difficulty rural counties have providing services to ranchettes. Unlike cities, counties do not have water and sewer lines readily available for homes. They also don't have firefighters and sheriff deputies stationed nearby to protect residents that may be 20 miles from city limits.
Some farmers liked the idea of designating areas for ranchettes. Yuba Sutter Farm Bureau member Cameron Black said those areas should be close to cities' spheres of influence where cities will eventually expand.
Kenneth Edwards of Live Oak said ranchette zones could buffer cities and agriculture.
“You can't farm right next to developments,” he said.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Eve Hightower can be reached at 749-4724. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.