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Neighbors: No tourists for Neverland

Jul 22, 2009

Neighbors intend to fight any move to turn Michael Jackson's former home, Neverland, into a tourist destination.

Residents of California's rural Santa Ynez Valley have formed a new group called Never!

It is backed by community organizations that want to head off any attempts to convert the ranch in remote Los Olivos into a commercial venue, spokesman Bob Field said.

Mr Field said the area did not have the roads, police or infrastructure to support crowds drawn to a Graceland-like tourist attraction, which he said would destroy the enclave's tranquillity.

Such a development would require the property to be changed from agricultural to commercial use, a lengthy process that would require a series of public hearings where residents could express their opposition.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Nicole Koon said officials had not been contacted by the property's owners or the Jackson family about a zoning change.

Property co-owner Thomas Barrack has not proposed developing the site, but Mr Field said the Santa Ynez Valley residents wanted solid reassurances.

"We have received mixed messages, some reassuring, some troubling," he said. "We'd like clear, concrete signs that there are no plans to pursue turning this into a tourist attraction."

The Los Olivos Business Organisation, which consists of the wineries, restaurants and boutiques along the town's short commercial strip, released a separate statement opposing a Graceland-like venue in its midst.

Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for Colony Capital, the Los Angeles-based firm where Mr Barrack is chairman and chief executive, had no immediate comment.

Neighbors: No tourists for Neverland
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Source: UKPA

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