Christopher Rosacker
crosacker@theunion.com

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Grass Valley sees retail potential along southern border

Two Grass Valley city council members told a couple dozen Nevada County residents who live around the 121-acre proposed Berriman Ranch project along Grass Valley’s southern border that the future of that site could include a big-box retail store, such as a Target, at a Wednesday night community meeting.

“Target would love to come to Grass Valley,” said Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout. “They have looked at this area for a long time as an economic, viable place. Would we allow that? I don’t know.”

Ultimately, Swarthout and council colleague Jason Fouyer said the city’s task was to create zoning regulations for that area that are agreeable to those who live there, and that framework would dictate the future development of that land.

“I want to make sure nobody leaves here thinking the city has any plans for development,” Fouyer said. “The first step is to put colors on the map that agree with your neighborhood. When I say colors, I mean zoning.”

Once the zoning is there, Fouyer noted that will give potential developers a framework to begin planning.

Grass Valley’s plan to rezone the Berriman Ranch area, which abuts the Carriage House residential community, is part of a city effort to annex and rezone 421 acres along that southern border that include the former Bear River Mill site.

“Our overall goal is we are trying to address local job growth needs in our community,” said Community Development Director Tom Last. “We don’t have any land in the city limits, and none in the county, to accommodate that kind of job growth. We are basically built out.”

The old Bear River Mill site is on the east side of Highway 49 and Berriman Ranch is on the west side. While the city aims to foster industrial use on the east side, the west side has already garnered council approval for the annexation and development of 30 new homes on 10 acres on Berriman Ranch.

However, as Swarthout and Fouyer noted, Berriman Ranch developer SCO Planning and Engineering is waiting to see how the city zones the area (based on the concerns of folks who live there) before deciding whether that 30-unit plan moves forward. The developer also won’t finalize annexation of Berriman until it knows the planning, the council members noted.

One factor is infrastructure.

Both Bear River Mill and Berriman Ranch pose a sewer problem for the city. Already, the city’s southern water treatment plant has had a history of overflow, noted Carlo Gerace, a Carriage House resident.

Gerace inquired how the city plans to handle its already-problematic sewer systems by adding more residential and, potentially, commercial demands to it.

Considering Grass Valley’s continually declining sales tax revenue base as more than 50 percent of local residents shop “down the hill” in Auburn and Roseville, the only way to fund public works improvements is to attract businesses to prop up the city’s tax revenues, Fouyer noted.

“We know we are not going to come up with the perfect plan that will make 100 percent of our property owners happy,” Fouyer said. “But how close can we get?”

Affected residents in attendance also expressed concerns about mitigating an influx of traffic and ensuring zoning that provides a buffer between existing homes and any potential commercial developments.

Also discussed were the potential for a new Highway 49 exit at Crestview Drive, whether that road might extend to Allison Ranch Road and the potential extension of Taylorville Road down to Crestview.

“The future is inevitable. All we can do is be proactive and embrace it,” said Ken Hughes, treasurer and de facto spokesman for the Carriage House Property Owners Association.

The city is expect to designate its preferred land use zoning for the areas along its southern border at a May 7 City Council meeting. The subsequent step in the process is to prepare an Environmental Impact Review, followed by further reviews by both the council and the city’s planning commission.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.


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The Union Updated Jun 4, 2013 09:22PM Published Apr 25, 2013 08:52AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.