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Audubon Society Disputes Willms Ranch Parcel Divide
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After receiving approval from the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors in January that the owners of the Willms Ranch can divide the nearly-2400 acre site outside of Knights Ferry into 42 parcels, the Stanislaus Audubon Society filed a Writ of Mandate on Monday, March 4 challenging the parcel split.

The approved plan calls for fashioning 42 individual parcels, ranging in size from 40 to 70 acres, with a 277 acre remaining site from two existing 2384-acre parcels.

The Stanislaus County Planning Commission determined there were no possible negative effects of the division.

The county also determined that there was no need for an environmental impact report (EIR) to approve the division.

The Audubon Society’s position is that the parcel split alone is growth-inducing and must therefore trigger an EIR, believing the split will surely increase the likelihood of ranchettes, and “hobby farms” that would as if decribed, “…have impacts on wildlife, land values, social services, and other environmental factors.”

In county papers filed by The Audubon Society, David Forba writes, “… a forty acre parcel is not large enough to sustain a cattle grazing operation and that such a parcel split would most likely create ‘hobby farms.’ This letter alone creates a ‘fair argument’ that the project may have a significant environmental impact.”

Willms’ attorneys have argued that the parcel split doesn’t necessarily mean ranchettes and hobby farms will follow, and if they are subsequently planned, then an (EIR) would be done in preparation.

For the full story read the March 13 edition of The Leader.