Homes on the horizon: October rains complicate housing project
Work continues on the Loma Rica Ranch housing development that, when complete, will provide 235 homes.
The first phase will see construction of 60 duet homes ranging from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet. It will also include single, detached houses that vary from 1,500 to 2,400 square feet.
The project is between Brunswick Road and Sutton Way in Grass Valley.
Keoni Allen, who operates Sierra Foothills Construction Company and is a liaison for the Bay Area-based developer, said it’s too early to determine the price range of the homes.
“The construction industry is very volatile, as many costs are increasing,” he said. “We are hopeful that costs will soon stabilize.”
Construction of the duets could begin as soon as site work reaches a point that allows it, which is dependent on dry weather. Some work is expected to be completed this winter while other tasks cannot proceed.
Allen could not say with certainty when the duets might be ready for occupancy.
“We’d like to be ready for occupancy in early 2023,” he added.
A major challenge is to keep the construction process efficient, Allen said, which helps keep costs as low as possible. Earlier this year there were issues of supply chain interruptions, particularly for lumber and plumbing fixtures, which can increase costs for a project.
The detached houses could begin construction in summer 2022, with 175 units in that phase. It’s typically a few months later when new houses are ready for occupancy.
While the county’s recent rains were welcome, they created some issues for the housing project.
Between Oct. 21 and 22, about an inch and a half fell on the Sierra Foothills and caused a discharge of silt into storm water drains. As a result, the Grass Valley Department of Public Works issued a notice of violation to Loma Rica Ranch, LLC, for discharging into the storm drain system pollutants that violated municipal code.
Public Works ordered the discharge to stop. This required the developer to implement Best Management Practices, as included in the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan — a requirement for Loma Rica’s grading approval. Grass Valley inspector Tristan Moore, an engineering technician, observed silt and muddy water leaving the construction site and entering Wolf Creek. The entire work site was exposed soil, and not protected as required.
Bjorn Jones, assistant city engineer and the supervisor who confirmed Moore’s site inspection, said it was an unusual storm event. However, he was not informed of any harm to wildlife or their habitat. Also, he’s not been apprised of any property damage to residents adjacent to Wolf Creek.
“The (notice of violation’s) intent was to get the site stabilized so something like this doesn’t happen again and get the site under control,” he said.
Jones added that the city will keep an eye on the site as subsequent rain events warrant.
“The site is actively monitored throughout the season and the state water board makes inspections as well,” he said. “They did have an inspector on site. They have similar concerns from a storm water perspective. We’ll do our normal reporting for the next qualifying rain event.”
According to Jones, Loma Rica had until Nov. 6 to correct the problem and was also able to get a 15-day extension if needed before fines are imposed, which could be up to $1,000 a day for subsequent violations.
According to a report from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, the project failed to deploy certain erosion control measures. Turbid water discharged off site in a number of locations.
Keoni Allen said Loma Rica Ranch, LLC, takes erosion control very seriously.
“When we realized the week of October 17 that a big storm was coming and the work was not going to be completed prior to the storm, the local companies working on the site moved quickly to install protection from the storm,” he said.
Contractors mitigated all storm water controls by Nov. 6.
William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at email@example.com
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