Red tape, squirrel hold up 350-home development in Taft, owner says

TAFT, Calif. - A new home development and Taft is being held up by a small squirrel that weighs less than a pound.

Bob Colston has been building homes in Taft since the '60s and had hoped 350 homes on the edge of Taft would be the crowning achievement of his career.

But he has run into roadblocks from the state Fish and Wildlife Department because of a small rodent called the antelope squirrel.

The state said Colston had to capture and put monitoring collars on all of the small antelope squirrels on the hundred-acre piece of land.

Colston decided that was too expensive and planned to scrap the project.

That's one state officials came back and said they would not require the monitoring of the squirrels.

All Colston needed was a small adjustment in the permit saying that he did not have to monitor the squirrels and he could start putting up homes.

But Colston says he has been waiting since last September for that approval on that permit and he has not yet started building the homes.

Colston says he thinks Gov. Jerry Brown is diverting Fish and Wildlife officials to work on projects related to the high-speed rail and that's why it is taking so long for him to get approval on his permit.

Colston says in the first phase he will build 35 homes and half of those have already been reserved by buyers. He says the homes are desperately needed for people who work in Taft but are forced to live in Bakersfield because of a lack of available homes.

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