Matthew Renda

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June 11, 2013
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Nevada County Board of Supervisors approves general plan update

Debate, lawsuits and acrimony continue to surround development attempts in South County.

On one side of the issue, residents who live near the Combie Road and Highway 49 intersection say their rural quality of life needs to be preserved.

The other side asserts the area around Lake of the Pines and that intersection is designed to support accessible amenities for residents.

Nevada County Planning Department Brian Foss said county staff will review area plans for small clusters of developed areas within unincorporated areas of Nevada County, including the Higgins Area Plan, as part of its general plan update.

During the recent Rincon Del Rio approval process, a group of South County citizens who organized under the banner of Keep Nevada County Rural opposed the development of a continuing care retirement community.

In the wake of county approval, Keep Nevada County Rural sued the county, claiming the approval violated California environmental law.

Supervisor Terry Lamphier questioned the actual rural nature of the area during an April 9 public hearing, saying that there are about 2,500 developed parcels within a three-mile radius of the proposed project, including several parcels in the Lake of the Pines gated community.

All such decisions are guided by the Nevada County General Plan, which will undergo an update process after the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a two-phase working schedule during its Tuesday regular meeting.

The first phase, which will be launched immediately and overseen by newly hired Senior Planner Kim Hunter, will focus on policy-level changes. The tentative schedule calls for the first phase to be completed by June 2014.

Supervisor Richard Anderson questioned whether consolidation of land use designations would be discussed during the first phase.

Foss said land use designations will be discussed in the second phase of the update.

“We want to start large and then focus on future phases,” Foss said.

Supervisor Nate Beason said he wanted input from the business community regarding how land use designations are hurting or hindering economic activity.

“We’ve talked about this light industrial zoning for some time,” Beason said.

“I get mixed inputs from the business community. I am hoping we can get to the bottom of all that through this process.”

Foss said they hope to hear from people regarding that and other issues during the first phase.

“We’re aware that there is a lot of (Business Park) designation on a lot of property and we have not really seen a successful business park project over the last 18 years — so maybe there is a better designation that could be used on those lands,” Foss said.

Business Park (BP) is a land use designation or zoning district that provides for manufacturing, distribution, processing, service, research and development and other uses associated with light industries.

Light Industrial (M1) is another designation that provides for production, repairing, distribution and warehousing of goods and equipment, along with supporting businesses and services.

The board gave direction to staff to maintain the central themes of the general plan — including fostering a rural quality of life; sustaining a quality environment; development of a strong, diversified, sustainable local economy; and planned land-use patterns (which) will determine the level of public services appropriate to the character, economy and environment of each region.

The last time Nevada County attempted a countywide planning effort, the National Heritage 2020 effort, which was an attempt to catalogue habitat along with plant and animal species’ diversity, the result was a deeply divided community.

Foss has said achieving community buy-in early on in the process is key in avoiding similar outcomes.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or 530-477-4239.

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The Union Updated Jun 12, 2013 12:30AM Published Jun 14, 2013 10:13AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.