Christopher Rosacker

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January 15, 2014
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Nevada City Planning Commission to debate Commercial Street Boardwalk today

The Nevada City Planning Commission is slated to review the environmental impact of the Commercial Street Boardwalk at its meeting today.

Following former City Councilwoman Reinette Senum’s call on Facebook Wednesday for supporters to attend today’s meeting and defend the boardwalk, the discussion may be contentious.

Constructed in August 2011 by the Nevada County Sustainability Team, Senum and volunteers, the boardwalk is a 50-by-8-foot, wood-planked, deck-like platform built over three street parking spaces to create public space, replete with benches, tables, umbrellas, planter boxes and bicycle parking stations.

After more than two years of gradual improvements, visitors to the boardwalk may not realize that the structure is officially considered a temporary structure, subject to annual Nevada City Council approval. After its initial one-year trial period, the boardwalk was granted a one-year extension in November 2012.

But after two years of being considered a “temporary structure,” Nevada City submitted the boardwalk for an environmental impact review in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act, seeking “Negative Declaration,” which means it has no impact on the environment. The city also sought, and was granted, an exemption from the $2,000 fee for filing a Notice of Determination.

During the 30-day December environmental study, 11 state agencies were notified, and only the Nevada County Historical Society and the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District responded regarding maintenance.

“(W)ood coating activities (such as waterproofing, staining or painting) should be performed when conditions are such that associated odors are likely to disperse reasonably well,” noted the air quality district.

The historical society’s comments raised concerns about whether the boardwalk would impact Nevada City’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places, granted in 1985. City staff contacted the state Office of Historical Preservation, and a representative said that no conditions are associated with the listing and that to become “de-listed” requires a submitted application for approval, according to City Planner Cindy Siegfried.

Resident Conley Weaver submitted the only other comments, objecting to the boardwalk by claiming that it is not consistent with the city’s General Plan. Among other things, Weaver argues that the boardwalk’s umbrellas alter the historic value and view of Commercial Street streetscapes — a claim Senum rallied against in her Facebook call for supporters.

However, Siegfried notes that the commission’s task is to simply advise the city council on the negative environmental impact declaration’s validity, leaving the decision of whether the boardwalk stays or goes to the city council.

After going through a California Environmental Quality Act checklist, City Manager David Brennan said the matter is likely to be addressed at one of the council’s two February meetings. The public has the opportunity to comment on the boardwalk at any step along the way.

The public portion of today’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. at Nevada City Hall, located at 317 Broad St.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

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The Union Updated Jan 15, 2014 11:38PM Published Jan 17, 2014 01:49PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.