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A matter of density

Concerns about the density of the proposed Bear River Plaza development and pouring more traffic onto busy Combie Road have forced a special meeting to discuss it in the south county area.

“My concern is the traffic and the open space being taken away,” said Craig Ferrari, president of the West Hacienda Drive Association. The project is proposed for the already congested corner of West Hacienda Drive and Combie Road near the entrance to Lake of the Pines.

Large events at nearby Forest Lake Christian School create traffic problems and parking lot spillage out onto the shoulders of West Hacienda Drive, Ferrari said.



“The intersection is already failing,” he said.

The special meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 3, Nevada County senior planner Tyler Barrington said, with a tentative location of Bear River High School.




The county Public Works Department first will give an update on plans to improve Combie Road. That will be followed by a special meeting of the Nevada County Planning Commission, where SCO Planning and Engineering, of Grass Valley, will present the project to the public.

The mixed-use commercial and residential development was the subject of a late February meeting of the Planning Commission, where south county residents voiced worries about the density and traffic potential.

At that meeting, commissioner Doug Donesky noted the mixed-use concept was different than most that the panel sees, because the residences are not part of the proposed buildings for office and retail space. Instead, the site plan shows four free-standing condominium buildings next to the commercial buildings, linked by a driveway.

SCO is seeking a general plan change to make the project denser and put aside less open space on the 91Ú2 acre site than what the plan currently mandates, Barrington said. About 71Ú2 acres is considered suitable for development.

The change would increase the commercial area from about 21Ú2 acres to more than 4 acres, and drop open space in the development less than 11Ú2 acres. SCO is asking that another 2 acres that is part of the Forest Lake Christian School grounds count toward open space requirements, Barrington said.

The 28 proposed condos would be switched to urban high density category on less than 2 acres, under the developer’s plan.

Although the development may eventually need a change in the county’s general plan to conform, the Higgins Area Plan might be interpreted to allow the higher density, according to SCO planner Heidi Burns.

That’s what bothers Ferrari’s association members and Chet Krage, a board member of South Nevada County Concerned Citizens

“Slope is another area that’s unclear,” said Krage, referring to the hillside the project will be built into.

“We want drawings to see how steep the cuts would be,” he said.

Krage also wants to hear what the project will do to busy Combie Road and how mitigations would be handled, Krage said.

That’s something planning commissioners also want to hear, because of other nearby developments including the residential Dark Horse and Saddleback Ridge projects and the Higgins Marketplace shopping center proposed for Highway 49 just south of the Combie intersection.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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