Nevada County 2017: A look at some of the year’s top priorities |

Nevada County 2017: A look at some of the year’s top priorities

The Union staff

Happy New Year.

This year, 2017, promises to bring huge change across our county, state and nation. A new president will take office within weeks. A wave of presidential appointees will take power along with him, among them a new U.S. attorney general who could significantly impact our own changes here in California.

State employees this year will tackle the imposing task of developing a licensing system for medicinal and legal, recreational marijuana. U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, expected to become the new U.S. attorney general, has a staunch anti-cannabis reputation. A renewed clash between federal and state governments over marijuana is anticipated.

And right here, in Nevada County, we've got our own cannabis issues to address.

Among all the hurdles our community will face this year, marijuana tops the list.


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Nevada County enters 2017 with a temporary cultivation ordinance that was cobbled together in the aftermath of Measure W's failure. County officials intend to create an advisory committee that likely will spend months writing recommendations for a new, permanent ordinance.

Nevada County supervisors waited on the results of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational cannabis, before starting the process of building new rules.

Conflict between county leaders and cannabis advocates persists. Growers wanted new rules in place before this year's growing season begins. The timeline of the advisory committee, which likely won't begin its work until February or March, makes that impossible.

The possibility of a marijuana dispensary coming to Nevada City will continue to draw crowds to City Hall this year.

People have until Jan. 9 to submit written comments to the city about the medical marijuana dispensary. Planning commissioners are expected to again examine the subject at their Jan. 19 meeting.

The Grass Valley City Council also has examined the possibility of having a medicinal dispensary, though discussion hasn't occurred for several weeks.

Economic development

The changing face of marijuana affects more than growers. It has the power to change the economy, though each counties' local laws will greatly affect the degree of that change.

Economic development is a regular source of conflict for our community, and 2017 will be no different.

A handful of developments will continue to move through the labyrinthine corridors of government.

Dorsey Marketplace, a large retail/residential project, has the potential to keep shoppers from driving down the hill.

There's also a project that, if approved, would put a hotel at East Main Street and West Olympia Drive.

Controversy stirs around both. A group opposed to the Dorsey Marketplace has formed. Looking to the hotel project, some 30 residents would be forced from their homes to make way for the new building.

Economic development means more than new places to shop or sleep.

Spiral Internet, which is bringing a gigabit high-speed internet connection to Nevada County, anticipates its first customers will be online this year.

Centennial Reservoir

Expect the Centennial Reservoir project to make some big headlines this year.

The project, which would create a new reservoir between the existing Combie and Rollins reservoirs on the Bear River, is years away from the first shovel hitting earth. That hasn't stopped a strong opposition from raising its voice.

A draft Environmental Impact Report on the reservoir is expected this year. In addition to approving that report, the Nevada Irrigation District also must gain approval from the State Water Resources Control Board.

A vote on the final environmental report and the water board meeting haven't been scheduled.


The county will continue to wrestle with homelessness this year.

A September 2015 town hall meeting with homelessness consultant Robert Marbut helped lead local officials to greater collaboration this past year, though little appears changed.

Divine Spark's Streicher House, a homeless day center started in 2016, is an exception. It likely will continue to expand its services this year.

Other local nonprofits like Hospitality House still face funding shortages, though silver linings persist. A grant through Nevada County will enable the shelter to have 15 additional beds for the first three months of this year.

Additionally, Hospitality House is expected to select a new executive director this year, a hire that will take the overnight shelter into 2017.

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