Grass Valley Planning Commission approves annexation |

Grass Valley Planning Commission approves annexation

Dave Brooksher
Staff Writer

Grass Valley's city council will soon consider a plan to expand the town's borders to allow for more developable land, including nearly 160 acres of industrial space intended to encourage growth in the local business community.

On Tuesday, Grass Valley's planning commission endorsed a plan to change the land use designation for 416 acres of land on both sides of Highway 49 along the town's southern border and annex 120 of those acres.

The land includes the former Bear River Mill site, as well as industrial sites occupied by prominent Nevada County businesses such as Vulcan Materials and Hansen Brothers Enterprises, a concrete supplier.

All three of the individuals who addressed the commission during public comment voiced concerns about the annexation project in its current version.

Orson Hansen of Hansen Brothers Enterprises on La Barr Meadows Road requested a pre-annexation agreement and questioned plans for placing new housing near industrial sites.

"We're noisy. Sometimes we're very early, sometimes we're very late," Hansen said. "There's lights and there's backup alarms, and there's no way around it.

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"It will lead to problems," Hansen added.

Dianna Cowan, a nearby resident, said that her household never received a notice of preparation or a draft environmental impact report. She says she wasn't notified about the draft EIR until just last week. Her primary concern dealt with traffic impacts associated with further development.

"We already feel there's a serious safety issue getting on and off the 49 at Crested Butte," Cowan said. "I would like to get the changes in transportation that will occur as the development moves forward."

Other traffic-related questions were raised about the intersection of McKnight Way and South Auburn Street.

"The latest plan is to have dual roundabouts there," Community Development Director Thomas Long said in an interview Wednesday. "The big question is the timing, how it's listed as a priority and how it's going to be funded."

Timing and funding constraints may be a factor, however.

The plan also calls for prezoning the 296 acres of land not being annexed. If that land is annexed at some point in the future, appropriate zoning regulations will already be in effect. Prezoning also makes it possible for stakeholders to know what land use regulations will be applicable in the event of such an annexation.

The land use designations for the area in question currently include 84 acres of business parks, 250 acres of urban estate density and 15 acres of commercial space. The Bear River Mill site, a special development area, accounts for 66 of the 416 total acres.

If approved by the city council and the county, that land will include 158 acres of land designated for industrial/manufacturing purposes, 29 acres for commercial property and just 11 acres for business parks.

There will also be 57 acres of medium-density residential property, 7 acres of urban estate density and 16 acres of urban low-density land.

Some of the land borders Empire Mine State Historic Park, which should provide recreational opportunities for people living and working in the area. There will also be 20 acres of public space and 117 acres of open space for recreation.

The city's staff report concludes that the annexation project reduces the likelihood of urban sprawl and helps to address the area's significant need for more industrially zoned commercial property — a key component to local job growth.

The report also claims that the project is self-mitigating due to open space planned for use as buffer zones. Residential real estate is also projected to be clustered together, which is expected to reduce the impacts caused by placing housing and industry in close proximity.

In a unanimous 4-0 vote (Commissioner Dawn Bateman was absent), the commission moved to certify the annexation's EIR and approve the annexation application, general plan amendment and pre-zoning requirements.

The matter will now go to Grass Valley's city council for approval.

Contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher at or by phone at 530-477-4230.

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