Letter: Why raise zoning issues for willdlife refuge now?

From: John Grace


I read with interest the article in the Jan. 23 Republic concerning an application for a zoning variance for Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators.

As your article pointed out, the need for the variance on this property, which has been operating successfully as a wildlife sanctuary for 14 years, was a finding by county zoning enforcement officials. Apparently after 14 years these officials found out that a wildlife sanctuary was not considered an allowed use for an agriculturally zoned property.

I find this observation quite odd from a number of perspectives.

First, what is it about a wildlife refuge that would not allow it to be considered an allowed use of agriculturally zoned land? It would seem on first thought that the raising and protecting of wildlife would be a rational use of agricultural land.

This seems especially true from the perspective that turkey farms, deer farms and CAFO industrial operations are considered valid uses of agriculturally zoned land. Second, what caused the sudden light from the heavens to encourage the zoning officials to act at this time, especially after this refuge has been operating as such for 14 years?

Whenever I am made aware of what appears to be revealed insight, I must admit I cast a wary eye and wonder if there is some other cause or motivation for the action. I certainly don’t know if there might be other motivations, although I suspect there are. I wonder if others in this community have similar wonderments as mine and would help me clarify my understanding of the situation.