www.montereycountyweekly.com AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 6, 2023 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 15 The owners of a 220-acre property in the scenic Corral de Tierra area are facing opposition from neighbors over their designs for a small-scale commercial chicken farm. Since acquiring the property at 18000 Corral Del Cielo Road in 2020, Ben and Tarin Christensen have drawn up plans to set up a farming operation, called Abalone Creek Ranch, on a roughly 30-acre portion near Corral Del Cielo. They want to use the pasture to graze nearly 500 chickens, as well as a smaller number of sheep, cattle and pigs; construct a 400-square-foot container-like structure to process the chickens on a monthly basis; and also build several barns and sheds spanning a combined 18,000 square feet. But the residents of a 27-home subdivision across the road have taken exception to the Christensens’ plans—claiming that the farm will bring unwanted noise and blight the surrounding viewshed, and also strain the neighborhood’s roads and water supply. The residents have organized and raised objections before the local Toro Land Use Advisory Committee and the county’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, and hired Carmel attorney Jennifer Rosenthal to lead their fight. Rosenthal says her clients are concerned about the scale of the proposed processing facility—citing how the Christensens originally planned to have around 700 chickens, but reduced that figure to just under the 500-bird threshold that would require a poultry farm permit. “Clearly their intent is to have a commercial chicken processing plant, but not go through the regulatory process because they’re going to have one less chicken,” she says. But Tarin Christensen insists that her family is “more than willing to comply” with the rules, stressing that Abalone Creek Ranch will not be the “industrial”-type operation feared by neighbors. While the Christensens live in San Jose (Ben works as an engineer for Meta), Tarin says they purchased the property with the intention of creating a “sustainable family farm” that they could share with their children and eventually retire on. “There’s no intention of ruining someone’s beautiful, idyllic landscape view,” she says, adding she’s been “surprised at the pushback” given that the land is already zoned for agricultural use. Given that zoning, as well as ag-friendly state laws like the Williamson Act and the “Right to Farm Act,” it’s unclear whether the organized community opposition will be enough to prevent or alter the Christensens’ plans. The local Toro LUAC already recommended against the project in July. The county’s Ag Advisory Committee punted on such a vote on Aug. 24, when it was asked by planners at the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development to provide recommendations on conditions of approval. The committee is expected to revisit the project in the coming months following completion of an environmental review, while the final decision on the project will lay with the county’s Planning Commission. Farm Fury A planned chicken farm in Corral de Tierra is facing fierce community opposition. By Rey Mashayekhi Lisa Stewart is among the local residents who oppose the proposed chicken farm. She is part of a group that has organized under the name Concerned Neighbors of the Pastures of Heaven. NEWS “There’s no intention of ruining someone’s idyllic view.” DANIEL DREIFUSS montagehealth.org/ohana