Area plan could help revitalize North San Juan |

Area plan could help revitalize North San Juan

An effort to revitalize the tiny townsite of North San Juan, years in the making, inches closer to fruition with a public hearing today before the Nevada County Planning Commission.

The North San Juan Rural Center Area Plan is intended to supplement the Nevada County General Plan in guiding development within the 23-acre historic region, said county associate planner Stephanie Wagner.

“The county established some goals for evaluating what was happening in North San Juan – why hasn’t the community developed as zoning would allow, for at least the last 20 years,” Wagner said. “The direction was to evaluate the constraints and whether there was a need to come up with solutions or strategies that would be appropriate for a rural community.”

The public hearing starts at 2:30 p.m. today at the Rood Administrative Center in Nevada City.

The Area Plan’s primary goals are to enhance economic development; identify development constraints and solutions to encourage mixed use development, job creation and affordable housing; and to develop a set of design guidelines that promote North San Juan’s small-town character, incorporating a streetscape plan to create a visual identity and sense of community.

“We identified zoning regulations as perhaps not friendly to … rural communities,” Wagner said, adding zoning was an issue in North San Juan due to its tiny historic lots.

While commercial zoning has been in place in North San Juan since 1980, and office/professional and business park zoning since 1997, nearly 75 percent of the lands are not developed for their intended use.

“We came up with solutions that would allow flexibility, looking at the rural center as a whole and attempting to get the parking we need in the community,” Wagner said.

The Area Plan also addresses other infrastructure limitations to development, including the lack of a public water supply, inadequate water for fire fighting and limited wastewater system capacity.

At the hearing, planning commissioners will be asked to OK adopting the Area Plan and to amend the land use map, changing the designation of five parcels and adding 10 lots to the Rural Center; amending the zoning ordinance to create a new Rural Center Combining District that identifies opportunities for flexible development standards; and amending the zoning map to add the new Rural Center Combining District to those parcels within the Rural Center.

The Area Plan will then go the Board of Supervisors for approval, possibly in April.

“This is a long-term framework, to establish some processes that allow the community some opportunities to start developing,” Wagner said, adding, “It takes a long time to build a community … North San Juan needs some work, but it’s not major. We’re just taking it one step at a time.”

The county mailed letters to property owners and residents to let them know the Area Plan was available online and Supervisor Hank Weston held a town hall meeting March 18.

“We haven’t had any negative comments yet,” Wagner said.

At the town hall meeting, Weston told the audience he was planning a full-court press today and encouraged people to come out in support.

“Before the area plan, the county never pinpointed what the community wants,” Wagner said.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail or call (530) 477-422

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