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Horse ranch workshop delayed due to lawsuit

By: Sarah Langford, Loomis News Editor
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A special workshop to discuss the use of horse ranches in Loomis is over before it had a chance to get started. The Loomis Town Council has canceled a meeting to consider zoning ordinance changes to equestrian facilities after it received notice of a pending equestrian-related lawsuit last week. The workshop was scheduled to take place Aug. 29. "We don't want to be discussing things that could be the subject of a lawsuit," Town Manager Perry Beck said Monday. The workshop was scheduled to allow residents to express concerns over a set of proposed changes to the town's zoning ordinance for equestrian facilities. The crowd's apparent confusion at the Aug. 9 meeting prompted the council to set up the special meeting and take public input. However, last week the town received a memo from Auburn attorney Jeffrey Bordelon stating an intent to file action over a conditional use permit for a horse ranch the council upheld in March. On Dec. 21, the Loomis Planning Commission granted Sonia Junghardt, owner of Shambaugh Ranch, a permit to operate her 25-horse equestrian facility in south Loomis. Junghardt teaches riding lessons to children and adults and boards horses. At 5855 Shambaugh Lane, the ranch is zoned Residential/Agriculture with an allowance for two horses per acre. However, the conditional use permit allows Junhardt a total of 25 horses on her property, provided she complies with a list of 52 conditions. Throughout the lengthy decision process, neighbors of Shambaugh Ranch who opposed the permit spoke up at council meetings, citing water runoff, smell and traffic as reasons to deny the permit. Councilman Miguel Ucovich appealed the commission's approval of the permit on behalf of Loomis residents Dom Fortunato and Ralph Reissmann, but the appeal was overturned at the council's March 8 meeting. Bordelon represents Fortunado and Reissmann, along with Loomis residents Eric Richardson and Ben Dominguez, in the suit. His clients' complaint, he said, is that the town did not properly grant the conditional use permit allowing Junghardt to exceed the two-horse-per-acre ordinance. "There should have been much more mitigation and environmental studies done, and they should have been looked at before the decision was made, not after," he said. Bordelon said he served the town with the legal documents via mail Monday night. In the meantime, the workshop on zoning ordinance changes has been postponed. "We'll have to wait and see what happens," Beck said. Sarah Langford can be reached at sarahl@theloomisnews.net.