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Ice machine fight escalating

Fed up neighbor asks for council intervention

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POSTED February 23, 2009 4:22 a.m.
It is a grating noise that Richard Behling says often keeps him up all night.
It comes from his next door neighbors who have an outside commercial ice machine churning out ice for their business that is also located next door – a catering company that at one time had four trucks parked on site plus has numerous delivery trucks coming and going throughout the day.
The catering business – which Behling contends is an illegal non-conforming use – is sandwiched between two homes on Fishback Road and backs up to the southwest corner of the Sierra High football field.
Behling has grown frustrated with the city’s code enforcement staff that he believes are stonewalling him and aren’t receptive to evidence that he’s discovered in San Joaquin County documents that Lynda Allen and Theresa Brassey – owners of the TLC Catering firm next door – don’t meet the provisions of being grandfathered in with a non-conforming use when the Fishback Road area was annexed to the city on Dec. 17, 1986.
Manteca Public Affairs Officer Rex Osborn who also supervises the  department’s code enforcement effort indicated that checks that the city has made show that records appear incomplete and that from what they can tell the catering use was in place before the annexation and therefore isn’t subject to Manteca zoning and noise laws.
However, if Behling has indeed found documents from the county that support his contention Allen & Brassey bought the land 11 months after the annexation – he said it shows their deed was recorded on Nov. 10, 1987 -  then the catering business can’t legally be grandfathered in as it didn’t exist at the time of annexation.
Behling has brought the issue up repeatedly during the public comments section of the council meetings after he grew frustrated with the city staff’s position.
Behling last week went a step further. He prepared an almost half-inch thick presentation that he distributed copies to 22 different parties – including city leaders as well as municipal and county department heads – and then asked on Feb. 17 that the council place the issue on an upcoming agenda.
Mayor Pro Tem Steve DeBrum said he’d sponsor the item setting the stage for a March 3 council showdown that Behling hopes will silence the icemaker and other conforming uses once and for all.
Councilman John Harris concurred saying he wanted the issues raised by Behling put to rest.
All of the property in the area is now zoned residential with the exception of Sierra High.
The previous owners of the property in question at 810 Fishback Road, Lewis and Anne Mego, did not operate a business at the location. They also did not use a mobile home on the back of the property that was put on site by two previous owners Dale and Georgia Mae Grubb in April 1976 for their elderly parents.
Behling contends permits were never kept current for the mobile home when it was under county jurisdiction and is therefore illegal. The mobile home is used to store supplies for the catering business and is behind the main house. He contends there is no record of the partners even bothering to obtain a home occupation permit for their business until 16 months after they purchased the property.
Behling is asking that the council force Allen & Brassey to relocate their business to land that is properly zoned and cease all non-conforming operations at 810 and 812 Fishback.
He also wants an end to what he contends are illegal commercial vendors making deliveries or pickups in a residential zone:
• Crystal Dairy refrigerated trucks that arrive every Monday at 3 a.m. with brakes squealing.
• Interstate Bakeries that usually delivers Fridays from 5:30 and 6:30 a.m.
• Oroweat that makes an unattended delivery around noon each Monday where the driver unlocks the security gate and lets himself onto the property.
• Darling International – the nation’s largest recycler of inedible animal by-products – makes as needed pick-ups to collect TLC Catering’s cooking grease waste that is stored in barrels on site until it is removed. Behling has noticed the truck twice. Once at 10:45 a.m. and another time at 3 a.m. He said the truck makes a very noisy 45-minute stop employing a vacuum. Behling also produced documents that show the City of Manteca took TLC Catering to small claims courts in June 1996 over unpaid garbage bills. A judge in August 2000 ordered the debt erased and exempted the property owners from the city’s garbage collection program.
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