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Ministers withdraw plans for zoo, auction

Residents living around Sunburst Drive won't have homes where the buffalo roam.

Two ministers proposing to open an exotic animal farm, petting zoo and auction facility have withdrawn their plans in the face of staunch opposition from residents in the rural East Pasco community of Richland.

"We don't want to upset the apple cart," said the Rev. Ladonna Rector, who with her husband, Robert, also wanted to build a home on the 57-acre property, which is near the intersection of U.S. 98 and County Road 35A. "It's not much of a ministry if we go in there and people are opposed to it."

The Rectors envisioned operating a farm with unusual animals such as llamas and buffalo; institutionalized children and adults could visit it for therapeutic purposes. They still plan to open such a farm, but they don't yet know where.

Neighbors in the area around Sunburst Drive complained that the Rectors' proposal would be a noisy, dusty nuisance that would decrease their property values.

Part of the Rectors' plans included rezoning 50 acres currently designated for mobile home development to agricultural use. But neighbors said that they preferred residential growth and that a farm would have harmed the potential for growth.

Though county staff members recommended approving the proposal, members of Pasco's Planning Commission recommended against it. Most felt it was incompatible with the residential neighborhood.

County commissioners had been scheduled to make a final decision Tuesday, but the Rectors' withdrawal made that unnecessary.

"We are very, very elated," said Sylvia Neugebauer, one of several neighbors who went door to door mobilizing opposition to the Rectors' proposal. "I hope the Rev. Rector finds an area that is not in another residential area."