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May 12, 2014
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Nevada County to get tough on big parties for profit on private land

Nevada County is poised to take tighter reins next week on commercial outdoor events on private properties in unincorporated areas.

An ordinance, first introduced in January and tweaked by a committee for the last five months, is up for approval at the county board of supervisors’ public meeting at 9 a.m., Tuesday, at the Eric Rood Center. 950 Maidu Ave. in Nevada City.

At issue, some supporters say, are potential violations of the county code where property owners might rent their land for use for private parties, causing traffic, noise and complaints from neighbors. Some violations, such as setting off sparklers or fireworks in fire-prone areas, could be dangerous. Other complaints might be about road deterioration from heavy traffic or excessive groundwater use that affects neighboring wells.

“The county finds that there have been increased demands upon county resources and infrastructure and increasing concerns related to the operation of large commercial outdoor events on private property,” states the revised ordinance, fine-tuned by Nevada County Counsel Alison Barratt-Green and supervisors Hank Weston and Richard Anderson.

“In order to adequately protect the public safety of event participants, neighboring property owners and other residents, it is necessary to provide great guidance and oversight.”

Under the revised ordinance, anyone scheduling a commercial outdoor event would need a permit unless the event qualifies for an exemption. Each property would be limited to four permits per year, with the length of each event kept to a maximum of two days.

Exemptions include properties already permitted and built for outdoor events and fundraisers run by nonprofits or registered political campaign committees.

“For any outdoor event which is not required to obtain a permit, the proposed ordinance would establish limitations related to hours of operation, noise, temporary lighting, parking and traffic,” Barratt-Green said in a memo to the county board.

“The proposed ordinance would also prohibit overnight camping in residential areas and would encourage event sponsors to provide the sheriff and local fire protection district with notice of the event and an emergency and fire safety plan at least 15 days prior to the event.”

The proposed ordinance comes as the issue of private property rights is front and center on the Nevada County legal stage.

Neighbors in a housing development on American Ranch Court Road in unincorporated Grass Valley are embroiled in a lawsuit regarding alleged weddings conducted by one of the property owners.

Neighbors Janine Blote, John Davy and Robert and Bonnie Beyer have filed suit against James and Jennifer Flaherty and Michael Ertel for allegedly booking large weddings for profit at their property.

On Friday, the Flahertys and Ertel filed an amended countersuit, alleging that Blote, Davy and the Beyers were committing various violations of the homeowners’ regulations within the subdivision.

A pretrial hearing in the case has been set for 11 a.m. on Nov. 7, with a civil trial scheduled for Nov. 18.

Bonnie Beyer, meanwhile, was one of the members of the public to testify in January in favor of the proposed county ordinance.

“Our issue (with the ordinance) is that there must be other people in the county that have similar problems,” Beyer said this week.

“We’re not the only ones.”

There were no opponents of the ordinance who testified in January, according to the minutes released by the board clerk.

However, in August 2013, members of a conservative county organization protested any effort by the Nevada County Code Compliance division to place tax liens on properties that failed to pay fines incurred for code violations on their properties.

Despite that protest by members of the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners, supervisors approved the resolution, 4-0.

As a result, a total of 19 property owners were to have a total of $10,280 in fines added to their 2013 property taxes.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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The Union Updated May 12, 2014 03:31PM Published May 12, 2014 03:52PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.