Living Free’s request for a revised conditional use permit (CUP) and rezoning was unanimously approved by the Riverside County Planning Commission at its Dec. 1 meeting. After its approval, Commission Chair Carl Bruce Shaffer announced that the proposal still must garner approval from the board of supervisors.
In 2016, Living Free went to the commission for approval to build a few new structures with a total square footage of about 14,000 based on its previously submitted master plan. The new buildings would include two quarantine facilities. — one for adult dogs and one for pups — a horse stable, a residence for the equine manager, a kennel and several smaller structures such a woodshed and equipment sheds.
The operational CUP was issued in 1995 and expired in March 2015. Consequently, Living Free needed to extend the CUP’s life. However, since the 1995 permit was issued, the county has changed some of its zoning stipulations and permissions, which necessitated the request to change the current zoning classification.
In 1995, Class IV kennels and Class II catteries were permitted on property zoned Rural Residential, which is the current zoning classification in that area of Mountain Center. Those county permissions have changed. As an animal sanctuary, two of Living Free’s main efforts include a kennel and a cattery. The Planning Department recommended changing the zoning to Light Agricultural, which permits those activities.
The staff environmental assessment resulted in a mitigated negative declaration. Nevertheless, there are many conditions, such as a possible bird nesting survey, and the presence of an archeologist and a Native American monitor during the conduct of any ground-disturbing work in case any unidentified buried cultural or historic resources are uncovered.
“Yes, we agree to the staff conditions,” Ray Barmore, Living Free executive director told the commission.
Commissioner David Leonard, 2nd District, asked Barmore about the proposed new camp site.
“It’s a primitive camp site for veterans,” he replied. “It’s for recreation for veterans to get out of the city and around the horses. We’ve been doing one-day clinics and want to expand it to multi-day sessions.”
Without further discussion, the commission approved the changes and recommended that the board of supervisors approve also.