With the specter of a lawsuit looming over Tuesday’s proceedings, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors granted an appeal that sent the plans to build the Yuba River Charter School on a 16-acre parcel just outside Grass Valley back to the planning commission.
“I don’t want to see it in litigation,” Supervisor Hank Weston said. “We need to find a better way of doing business.”
Weston said that opponents to the project, organized under the name Friends of Squirrel Creek, may not win any more significant mitigations, but at least the extra steps will ensure more transparency.
The board granted the appeal and mandated the five-person planning commission look into three specific project elements: traffic impacts, stormwater run-off and sewer.
“(The review) could be more thorough,” Supervisor Nate Beason said.
Yuba Charter Director Caleb Buckley said he was “stunned” by the decision and felt the board was “just kicking the can down the road.”
Buckley said the board seemed motivated by the threat of a lawsuit.
“It seems like they were serving their own interest and not the public interest,” Buckley said at the conclusion of the five-hour meeting.
Friends of Squirrel Creek said they would resort to litigation if the appeal was denied, according to Weston.
“We’ve been through the planning process twice and now we will go through it again,” Buckley said. “It’s like Groundhog Day in Nevada County.”
Anita Daniels, the president of the Friends of Squirrel Creek, a new organization formed around the movement to oppose the school’s construction, said she was pleased with the decision.
“Very satisfied,” she said. “We can work together to resolve these issues.”
Daniels said she and other neighbors will negotiate in good faith with representatives from the school regarding the outstanding issues.
The issues include attempting to address the intersection of Adam Avenue with Rough and Ready Highway, which Supervisor Richard Anderson deemed potentially unsafe.
The project is located on a triangular parcel that abuts the intersection of Adam Avenue and Rough and Ready Highway.
Making a left-hand or right-hand turn onto a road with a 45 mph speed limit, with limited sight lines, was less than ideal for parents and young children, he said, adding a roundabout could be a potential solution.
Beason said he preferred the school connect to the city of Grass Valley’s sewer system rather than construct a centralized septic system capable of serving the six single- story buildings that comprise the 23,000 square feet of proposed space.
However, Buckley said the closest connection point is 3,500 linear feet away from the parcel and would cost nearly $1 million to build.
Lastly, many neighbors downhill from the project expressed concern that semi-pervious material on the presently undeveloped parcel could exacerbate flooding problems in the area.
The board ordered the planning commission to explore these issues in depth before coming to a decision.
Buckley did express concern that the $1.2 million in grant money he received to perform remediation efforts on the property could be in jeopardy due to the delay.
“We’ll have to debrief and discuss the long-term viability of the project,” he said.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org 530-477-4239.