Loma Rica development still in the works | TheUnion.com

Loma Rica development still in the works

Dave Brooksher
Staff Writer

A 2007 rendering of planned mixed use buildings in the proposed Loma Rica development.

The City of Grass Valley says the Loma Rica Ranch development is still moving forward, but the project's developer isn't responding to questions about progress.

The project's specific plan was first presented to the city in 2004, but documents indicate activity going back to the 1980s. In 2009, it earned Phil Carville of Carville Sierra an award for "advanced planning in the Sierra." But five years later, Carville has stepped away from the project and the Loma Rica Ranch does not yet appear to be under construction.

It originally looked to annex 455 acres of land adjacent to Grass Valley, bringing in 700 new homes along with 54,000 square feet of commercialretail space and more than 364,100 square feet of business park.

An informal survey on http://www.theunion.com revealed that most respondents believe the project has been cancelled, indefinitely put on hold, or that it's been dramatically scaled back after a lawsuit with the Nevada County Airport Land Use Commission. Just 15 percent of those surveyed said that the project is on track and moving slowly, but they're correct, according to Grass Valley's community development director Tom Last.

"There are ongoing conversations," Last said. "It may appear that it's gathering dust, but in reality there is stuff going on where people are doing work behind the scenes."

Last says it's common to see long delays in situations like this. With more than 400 acres and hundreds of home sites, this is a major project for Grass Valley. The economy may also be a factor.

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"It takes time for all that coordination," Last said. "It may take several years for the ground-breaking to occur."

According to the Phasing & Implementation Chapter of the project's most recent specific plan, filed in 2011, the construction was expected to begin by 2016 and continue over 10 to 20 years, depending on market conditions.

The project hit a roadblock in 2012 when the City of Grass Valley filed a lawsuit against the Nevada County Airport Land Use Commission regarding land-use conflicts that arose after the commission expanded the safety zones around the runway. It was reported at the time that the settlement would require developers to move forward with fewer houses in the area around MacBoyle Lake.

But that may not be the case.

Last said that to the best of his knowledge, the Loma Rica Ranch project was not scaled back. The development's specific plan is still approved for 700 housing units.

It did become necessary, however, to adjust the density of housing units in one of four planned neighborhoods within the development known as The Lake. Distribution of home sites in that area had to be shifted south from the airport due to safety concerns, but the number of home sites has not changed.

The property was annexed in late 2012, and Last said that Loma Rica Ranch was officially brought into the city in 2013. What's happened since then, however, remains unclear.

Steven Garrett of Castle Companies in San Ramon was designated as the project's representative in 2009. Despite numerous phone calls and voice messages over a period of two months, Garrett has not answered questions about the project's current disposition.

To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, send emails to dbrooksher@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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