Grass Valley Planning Commission OKs Dorsey Marketplace, with conditions (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY) | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley Planning Commission OKs Dorsey Marketplace, with conditions (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)

John Orona
Staff Writer

After more than five years of start-and-stop planning and design revisions, the Dorsey Marketplace project will finally go before the Grass Valley City Council, the last step before its final approval, after the Planning Commission recommended a version of the project with added stipulations.

The commission was tasked with certifying the project’s draft environmental impact report; approving amendments to the city’s General Plan required to move the project forward; and choosing between two development options with different mixes of residential and commercial space.

During the four-and-a-half hour Tuesday night meeting the commission negotiated the approval of Alternative B, the development option with more housing which proposes a mix of a 172-unit apartment complex with 104,350 square feet of commercial and retail space on the 28.6 acre site near the southeast corner of Dorsey Drive and the northbound Highway 49 off-ramp.

It’s unknown when the project will appear before the City Council.

The commission added the conditions that the developer must add solar panels to the apartment complex; commit to providing all-electric space and water heating; and prohibit one of the three proposed drive-thru locations from being operated as a food vendor.

The negotiations began once it became clear by their questioning that Commissioners Tom Ivy and Terry McAteer would oppose the project as-is on environmental and economic grounds. The added amendments gained the project unanimous support from the commission.

McAteer also recommended adding an elevator to the proposed three-story housing complexes, but that motion was not supported by a majority of the council.

“I think you made a terrible decision in not putting elevators in this project,” McAteer said. “Americans aren’t used to walking up three stories.”

HISTORY OF CONCERNS

Since its first iteration the project has faced public opposition due to traffic impact; affordability; environmental concerns associated with construction and with the use of a brownfield site that was formerly Spring Hill Mine.

People commenting at the meeting echoed those same concerns that brought the project to a halt in the past, but project architect Dan Richards said the development team has learned from the community since then.

“When we first presented the project there was a lot of commentary about the project being too Roseville, too Rocklin,” Richards said. “This is a very different project. It has changed significantly. The first design was not necessarily welcoming to the community.”

Changes since the project’s first proposal have entailed removing a movie theater, including the residential component and will now include the amendments added by the commission if the City Council ultimately agrees with them.

“The council can choose to do whatever they want with our recommendation,” Commission Chairperson Greg Bulanti said at the meeting. “They’re the ultimate authority.”

Commissioner Elizabeth Coots addressed repeated concerns by the public at the meeting that the project would heavily impact traffic, saying that traffic is something they would have to put up with one way or another as the city expands.

“The more we can make this walkable — fabulous. The closer we can get needed things like markets to people — great,” Coots said. “But we’re going to have to bite the bullet and realize we’re going to have more traffic eventually.”

McAteer also questioned if it was wise to include what he called big box store locations in the design, fearing that the changing nature of retail would make the potential tenants at risk to the fluctuating economy and that the stores could hurt local small businesses.

“I don’t think we can kibitz or analyze if someone is going to be successful in a certain retail endeavor, it’s not for us to decide that, it’s up to the developer to fund and make this project work,” Bulanti said in response. “If the retail accents the housing element and people want to patronize those stores- build it and they will come or maybe not.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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