Gilded Springs development clears Grass Valley Planning Commission hurdle
Neighbors unhappy with the proposed Gilded Springs development off Linden Avenue took potshots at the 27-home project, the developer and even planning commissioners during a recent public hearing.
Residents of the area surrounding the development on nearly 7 acres bounded by West Main and Alta streets cited historical issues with flooding from the many springs that give the development its name. They remain unconvinced by the conclusion of the city’s hydrology studies that found the seasonal variations in the water table can be mitigated.
“Any neighbor here will tell you it’s wet, wet, wet,” said Lisa Hosbein, who lives on Linden and who has had to dig little ditches on multiple occasions to keep her garage from flooding.
Some of the harshest criticism came from Greg Weber of Greg’s Organics, who farmed that property for years.
“A large portion (of the property) is not suitable for construction, period,” Weber said, adding the traffic mitigation measures are inadequate. “I can’t believe you guys are shoving this through. It’s ridiculous.”
Weber, whose comments drew applause from the audience, also charged with developer with gentrification.
“You’re not addressing the needs of the community,” he said. “Very few people in this room can afford these houses.”
City staff in June had released an initial study and mitigated negative declaration for the project, proposed by Nevada City architect Tobin Dougherty.
Staff determined there are no significant adverse effects on the environment from the Gilded Springs project and an environmental impact report was not required. City Planner Lance Lowe said the development is consistent with Grass Valley’s General Plan and with the current zoning of the parcels.
Access, parking and circulation were extensively discussed in the study, with primary access via a newly constructed Ben Taylor Crossing at East Main Street. A habitat restoration and enhancement plan has been prepared for Peabody Creek (also known as Rhode Island Ravine), that will remove invasive Himalayan blackberry and replace it with native plant species. Drainage issues are to be addressed with runoff being directed to “bioretention systems” or to Peabody Creek. The study noted seasonal groundwater fluctuations of at least 7 feet through much of the site, but no wetlands have been documented or mapped within the project.
Dougherty has gotten plenty of pushback from the outset, with residents in the area continuing to express a number of concerns including traffic on the already-busy Main Street corridor and the Alta Street “raceway,” as well as the effect of the development on the property’s many springs.
During the planning commission hearing, Dougherty cited his ties to Nevada County.
“I started this project two years ago with some really good intentions, to create some nice housing for this town,” he said, saying his vision was “nice homes that are not massive, that fit into the neighborhood, (that are) not cookie-cutter.”
The developer expressed frustration with the roadblocks, which he said are increasing his costs and therefore the price point for the homes — initially set at $400,000 to $700,000.
“I want to create a nice neighborhood, I want to be a good neighbor,” Dougherty said, “I haven’t been treated well … It makes me angry.”
According to the developer, about a third of the homes are spoken for, all by local residents.
“I just want to get past this process so we can take the next step,” he said.
In the end, planning commissioners approved the tentative subdivision map for the development, with an additional condition of approval for traffic calming measures. That approval, on July 16, triggered a 15-day appeal period, said Grass Valley Community Development Director Tom Last,
“Every planning commission decision can be appealed to the City Council,” Last said. “They can file an appeal, pay the appropriate fees, then it would get scheduled for a public hearing.”
The last day to file an appeal is July 31, Last said, adding that as of Thursday he was not aware of such a filing.
After July 31, the ball is back in the applicant’s court, to prepare a final subdivision map and meet the conditions of approval. Once the city’s engineering department staff signs off on those conditions and the map, it would go to the City Council for final map approval.
“It’s a formality at that point,” Last said. “Then the applicant can move forward with site development.”
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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